Photos by Kevin Nagle
After the Bryant Lady Hornets and the Russellville Lady Cyclones took turns surging to victories in the first two games of their 7A/6A-Central Conference match at the Bryant gym on Thursday, the two teams settled into a pitched battle that included some scintillating attacks and eye-popping digs.
In the end, the Lady Hornets improved to 3-0 in league play and 7-1 overall with a 3-1 win, 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 27-25.
“Wow! What a fun game,” enthused Lady Hornets coach Beth Solomon. “I’m very proud of these girls. I told them tonight that I’ve never coached a group of girls like this. They have a way of coming together no matter what’s going on and getting the job done.”
Bryant had a whopping 150 attacks that produced 50 kills led by Allie Anderson’s 23 and Raven Loveless’ 14. Defensively, the Lady Hornets came up with 56 digs against the hard-hitting Lady Cyclones. Shayla McKissock led with 13 digs. Whitney Brown had 11, Britney Sahlmann 10 and Kaci Squires 9.
The Lady Hornets also had just four service errors in 97 attempts. Anderson and Squires each had four aces. Savannah Shelton, Brown and Sahlmann had two each and Kendall Selig one.
Selig led the team with two solo blocks to go with five kills. Brittney Warner and Sahlmann each had three kills with Alex Dillard and Shelton getting one apiece. Sahlmann had 34 assists.
“I thought Shayla McKissock had a wonderful game tonight,” Solomon said. “She kind of had a little bit of a rocky start the first game and then pulled it together. She had some pretty much amazing saves and spot-on serve-receive the second, third and fourth games.
“Their hitters were pretty much taking it to us,” she added. “We kind of got our groove and knew where to put our defense for their digs and we were pretty much good to go.”
“Russellville looked a lot better than we expected them to,” the coach mentioned. “We thought it would be more like the team we played at camp this summer but that’s definitely not how they looked. It was just a great game. And I love playing Russellville. Their coach is one of my good friends.”
Solomon broke it down this way:
“We started off the night pretty rough, lost the first set after trying to get our groove going, getting down by quite a few points and then coming back. It went back and forth and we ended up losing it.
“We came back in the second set and started just dominating,” she continued. “We won it after having about a 10-point lead at one point in the game.
“The third set, we had to fight pretty hard for. We kind of dug a hole and dug ourselves back out. The fourth set definitely was a back and forth fight, an all-your-life-type of game the entire game.
“Now we’re going to try to rest a little bit and get ready to head to Greenwood on Tuesday,” she concluded. “It feels pretty good to be 3-0 in conference right now.”