Photos by Kevin Nagle
As the season figures to go, so went the Benton preseason benefit jamboree on Thursday night for the Bryant Lady Hornets.
Like any team, the Lady Hornets will get better as they go along but, with a team that is as inexperienced as they are, they have the potential to make much greater strides along the way.
Bryant opened the jamboree against Pulaski Academy and came up short 18-25. Against 7A-Central Conference rival Mount St. Mary, they finished within 20-25. After an hour-long break, Bryant came back to take on Little Rock Christian, which had just finished with Pulaski Academy. The result was a 15-25 defeat for the Lady Hornets.
But they bounced back against Fountain Lake, falling 21-25. Following another break, they played their best of the night against Benton. The Lady Panthers eked out a 27-25 win.
The plan for head coach Beth Solomon and assistant Cristina Meyers were pretty basic.
“Our goal for tonight was to look at a possible rotation to start the season with,” Solomon related. “Although we have some things to tweak before our home opener next week, we have a good idea of who will be in our starting rotation. Now we have to get the girls comfortable with one another and meshing on the court. That will come with more court time together.”
The Lady Hornets open the 2016 season officially on Tuesday, Aug. 23, against the Hot Springs Lakeside Lady Rams.
“We saw some good things tonight and really had the best game when we played our last set with Benton,” Solomon acknowledged. “I don’t know if it was the rivalry or what, but the girls were coming together and making things happen.”
Statistically over the five sets (the equivalent to one full match), the Lady Hornets had six players that picked up kills, led by returning starter Raven Loveless with 10. Freshman Lylah Washington impressed with seven. Alex Dillard, Brittney Warner and Sarah Clemmons had six each. Ashlyn Lee, the Bryant setter, added two to go with a 25 assists.
Clemmons and Warner each had three blocks, Washington and Loveless two each.
At the service line, the team was good on 87 percent of its attempts with eight aces and 13 errors. Loveless and Kyla Baker had two aces apiece. Lee, Washington, Riley Hill and Clemmons had one each. Baker was good on all 17 of her serves. Loveless was good on 19 of 20 while Hill got in 15 of 16. Lee was good on 13 of 15.
On defense, Loveless, Washington and Baker each had five digs. Dillard and Hill had three. Clemmons, Warner and Lee added two apiece.