Bryant girls suffer heartbreaking loss in opener

By Rob Patrick

PEARCY — Before her team’s season-opening match, new Bryant Lady Hornets head volleyball coach Beth Solomon said her team needed to develop confidence. The first two games of their match against the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves should’ve provided some.

But confidence, when first taking root, is often fragile.

The Lady Hornets, despite the exhortations of their coach, seemed to lose a little of their intensity in the third game and the tight battles in the first two games that went their way turned around after that as Lake Hamilton rallied to win the match, 23-25, 25-27, 25-16, 25-21, 15-13, spoiling Bryant’s debut.[more]

The Bryant JV suffered a disappointing finish as well. After winning the first game, they lost the next two, the finale, 17-19, after it was tied 13-13, 15-15, 16-16 and 17-17.

“The girls worked hard,” Solomon said of the heartbreaking varsity match. “Going five games with a team is never easy, especially when you're up two games to none. The girls definitely stepped up their level of playing and came together as a team. The girls played their hearts out and showed what they are capable of. This means good things to come for Bryant volleyball.”

The fourth game proved to be the toughest one for the Lady Hornets to take. They led most of the way, at one point, 11-5, and as late as 18-17. But they just couldn’t close it out. Lake Hamilton came back to tie at 19 then took the lead. The game was tied at 21 after a kill by senior Jordan Armstrong and a serve-receive error by the Lady Wolves, but the Lady Hornets just couldn’t break serve after that.

The desperately contested finale was tied 7-7. Bryant had a chance to take the lead but a service error cost them. Lake Hamilton built an 11-7 lead before Bryant put together its own rally sparked by a winning hit by Taylor Shutt from her knees.

The Lady Wolves broke serve but then committed a service error to give Bryant control once again. A block by sophomore Brianna White pulled the Lady Hornets within 12-10. Again Lake Hamilton broke serve but couldn’t hold it. Another service error was followed by a point served up by Brianna Hays that had Bryant within 13-12. But a long serve put Lake Hamilton a point away from a win. The Lady Wolves returned the favor to get Bryant within 14-13 but a block to end the next volley finished it.

The first two games of the match were just as tight but the Lady Hornets had the surges at the end to win them. The first game was so close the largest lead either team enjoyed was the 12-9 edge Bryant held after Kasey Baker served up three points including one on an ace.

Lake Hamilton came back to take a 19-18 lead and led 23-21 only to have the Lady Hornets surge to the victory. Kayla Davidson broke serve with a kill then, with Maggie Hart in service, they close it out on a serve-receive error by Lake Hamilton and kills by Shutt and Davidson.

The momentum rolled into the next game. Bryant built a 13-5 advantage, sparked by the play at the net by White who, at one point, scored on a pair of blocks (one in combination with Hart) and a spike.

Again, however, the Lady Wolves tightened it up, taking a 20-18 lead. After a service error, however, Armstrong took service for Bryant and, after a volley by Lake Hamilton was wide, Shutt knocked down another kill and Armstrong served up an ace.

But the Lady Wolves wouldn’t go away. The match was tied at 24 and Lake Hamilton got the next point only to follow up with a long serve that tied it. A kill by Davidson after a long volley put Bryant on top and the winning point came when Lake Hamilton spiked into the net.

The Lady Wolves started the third game with a 7-2 run. Bryant answered, getting as close as 14-12 only to have Lake Hamilton go on an 8-0 run to gain the upper hand.

Bryant opened the third game a determined effort building an 11-5 lead. Davidson served up an ace and Peyton Thacker had two along the way while Shutt contributed a pair of kills. Davidson and Hart combined on a block that scored as well.

Shutt finished with 11 kills, Davidson seven. White contributed five blocks. Davidson was also the top server getting in 18 of 20 tries with five aces. Baker led the team with 14 assists.

The Lady Hornets will try to bounce back at Benton on Monday, Aug. 31 before their home opener on Thursday, Sept. 3, against 7A-Central Conference rival Little Rock Central.

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