CONWAY — Though the injury-plagued season of the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman volleyball came to a[more] conclusion in the first round of Saturday’s Central Arkansas Junior High Conference post-season tournament, head coach Monica Parish unequivocally declared, “I am so proud of how the girls played in their last match as ninth graders. I told the team after the match that they should hold their heads high. They should be proud of their performance.”
Just a few days after suffering a 12-25, 10-25 loss to Lake Hamilton during the regular season, the Lady Hornets took the Lady Wolves to the edge on Saturday with a pair of bracing games that they wound up on the short end of 25-27, 24-26.
“It was one of the lowest performance matches we had all season long,” Parish said of the earlier contest. So, when we saw that we would play Lake Hamilton in the tournament, I reminded the girls of the lackluster performance and challenged them to dig deep and show how we can bounce back from adversity. And they did.
“The match was the most exciting match we played this season,” she said of Saturday’s bout. “The girls left everything on the court. We made some unbelievable digs and saves to keep plays alive.
“I told them, I have never been a part of a team that has had so much adversity with injuries and still they kept working hard and trying to get better,” Parish noted. “And I think Saturday, it all came together for them.”
Nikki Clay led the Lady Hornets with three kills to go with three digs. Jayla Anderson added two kills and a pair of blocks.
Abby Staton led with six digs. She also had a kill. Mercedes Dillard contributed five digs, a kill and served up an ace. Haley Dellis came up with three digs to go with a kill and an ace.
Taylor Lindberg pitched in with a kill, two digs and two aces. Sarah Shepard added a kill and a pair of digs and Brianna Davis came through with a dig.
“Jayla had a couple of tips early in the first game and a monster block,” Parish recounted. “Her aggressive net play got the Lake Hamilton hitters trying to avoid her so they started to hit it out or into the net. Jayla had a great game getting into the Lake Hamilton hitters’ heads.
“Abby had only one bad pass for the entire match,” continued the coach. “She had some great passes and digs the entire game.
“Nikki had her best overall game offensively and defensively,” she mentioned. ‘Mercedes and Taylor had great focus during both games and came up with big plays to keep rallies alive. Sarah and Brianna were back row players that had some incredible digs to keep rallies alive.”