Extended third set proves crucial as Lady Bears prevail over Lady Hornets

For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here

By Rob Patrick

Beatriz Hernandez (23) and Truli Bates (22) reach up for a block. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The 7A-Central Conference volleyball battle between the Bryant Lady Hornets and the Fort Smith Northside Lady Bears was even after two sets. It felt like the match, even through it was best 3 of 5, was in the balance when the two teams embarked on the third set. Every point was a war. Neither team could manage more than a one-point lead after Northside countered a 16-13 lead for Bryant to tie it at 16.

From that point on, it was tied at every point. With the set on the line with the Lady Bears leading 25-24, senior Raven Loveless came through with a kill to keep the Lady Hornets alive. Chloe Fitzgerald’s kill had Northside ahead again only to have a hitting error cost them the set. Alexis Evans’ kill had the Lady Bears up 27-26 and, with Jaide Smith in service, an ace finally ended the marathon set.

That setback took a lot of starch out of the Lady Hornets who were trying to push ahead of Northside in the 7A-Central Conference standings. The two teams came into the match tied for fourth at 3-4.

Casey Welch (7) receives a serve as Erin Thompson (5) looks on. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Riding the momentum, Northside built a 10-2 lead and went on to win in the fourth set as well as the match, 25-14, 20-25, 28-26, 25-8.

“Tonight was a hard loss,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Beth Solomon. “I thought that we played really well and looked really good in both of our JV matches and in the beginning of the varsity match. Unfortunately, it was like we just gave up in that fourth set.”

In the first set, Northside rolled to a 7-1 lead and the Lady Hornets just couldn’t get much closer the rest of the way.

In the second game, however, it was nip-and-tuck in much the way game three would go. Repeatedly tied down the stretch, Bryant gained the upper hand on a hitting error for Northside, snapping a 17-17 tie. With libero Cassie Ray serving, Bryant pushed the lead to 21-17.

Northside broke serve but didn’t control it long as Ashlyn Lee regained possession for the Lady Hornets with a kill.

Raven Loveless attacks over Northside’s Mari Sumbler (24). (photo by Kevin Nagle)

Still, the Lady Bears got within 20-22 before back-to-back kills by Loveless and an ace by Lee closed out the win for Bryant.

Loveless finished with 11 kills. Ivory Russ and Faith Stone had four each, Beatriz Hernandez two along with one each from Lee, Kristen Boyle and Grace Camferdam. Boyle also had two solo blocks.

Lee had 15 assists and Lexi Brown five.

At the service line, the Lady Hornets were good on 66 of 73 serves. Erin Thompson had three aces. Boyle and Lee added one each. Cassie Ray got in all 11 of her attempts and Kyla Baker was 13 of 13.

Ray also came up with 17 digs. Baker had nine, Macey Loudon and Thompson four each, Ashley Davis and Brown three apiece.

This Thursday, the Lady Hornets visit Mount St. Mary Academy, the team they are now tied with for fifth in the conference.

Lexi Brown (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

“We’ve got a tough one on Thursday at Mount,” Solomon said. “Mount’s gym is one of the hardest to play in. We will regroup tomorrow and overcome.”



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