Lady Hornets avoid letdown, get past Lady Tigers
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK — After a week in which they surged into second place with huge wins over two of their[more] closest competitors, the Bryant Lady Hornets visited the dingy old gym at Little Rock Central on Tuesday night. Faced with the Lady Tigers who have just one a single 7A/6A-Central Conference game in seven tries, the Lady Hornets figured to have a little difficulty conjuring up the emotion and intensity they’d played with the previous week against Van Buren and North Little Rock.
But head coach Beth Solomon knew that for those wins to maintain their significance, her team had to avoid an upset.
Though it took them until the third game to really lock in, they got it done, 25-17, 26-24, 25-7 to improve to 7-3 overall and 6-2 in league play, to retain their share of second. This Thursday, they’ll host the third-place Mount St. Mary Belles, hoping to avenge a loss at the Mount earlier in the season.
The Lady Hornets JV team improved to 7-3 as well on Tuesday, winning 25-11, 25-13.
“Even the first game, we weren’t playing as hard as we should’ve been playing,” said Lady Hornets coach Beth Solomon regarding Tuesday’s varsity match. “The second game, we went through the big lull.
“For some reason, when we play Central, we have the hardest time getting going,” she mentioned. “Every year when we come into this gym — I don’t know what it is — it’s like it just sucks the life out of us. For some reason, the girls just seem to forget how to play. But they picked it up in the third game, thank goodness, and came out and showed how they really should’ve played all three games.”
The opening game of the match went back and forth until Brooke Howell, who led the Lady Hornets with nine kills in the match, drilled four in quick succession. The first broke serve and pulled the Lady Hornets with 10-11. With Lauren Reed serving, Howell place another hit for a kill then Alyssa Anderson, who had six kills in the match, got a tip to go giving Bryant the lead 12-11.
The Lady Hornets would not trail again.
After a pair of hitting errors extended Bryant’s margin, Howell knocked down another kill before a sideout allowed Central to get back within 15-13. Another kill by Howell, however, ended the Lady Tigers’ run and, with Taylor West serving for Bryant, Anderson followed up with a kill.
Reed would go on to get all nine of her serves in for the match including an ace. Howell matched that. West got seven of her eight serves in. Reed was also good on all 12 of her passes.
But it was the Rice twins who had the best day serving. Hannah Rice was good on 15 of her 16 serves with two aces while McKenzie Rice got in 11 of 12 with four aces.
McKenzie Rice also had eight kills, as did Brianna White. Hannah Rice finished with 32 assists. She also led the team with nine digs. White and Anderson each had two solo blocks. White assisted on two other blocks and Anderson one other.
The Lady Hornets gradually pulled away in the first game, ending it with a flurry. White got a sideout with a dink then McKenzie Rice ended it with back-to-back aces.
In the second game, however, Central led most of the way after starting with a 3-0 run. The Lady Hornets pulled even several times, as late as 14-14 but couldn’t get the lead until late in the match. They trailed 19-22 before three consecutive kills by Anderson, McKenzie Rice and Hannah Rice evened it up at 22.
A passing error allowed Central to regain the edge but another kill by McKenzie Rice knotted it back up. A Bryant hitting error, however, had Central serving for game point only to have a net serve cost the Lady Tigers.
With it 24-24, Hannah Rice served up an ace giving her team its first lead in the game since it was 5-4. And when White drilled a kill to end the next volley, it also provided the Lady Hornets with the game-winner.
That not only gave Bryant a lift and seemed to take the starch out of the Lady Tigers.
Early in the third game, Bryant started to dominate as McKenzie Rice pounded the ball on her attacks for three kills in a during a 7-0 run. White scored on a block and smashed one for a kill. Hannah Rice contributed two aces along the way, the second to make it 8-2 before Central finally got a sideout.
It was 15-6 then Bryant went on another run, closing it out on a 10-1 tear. Much of that came with Howell serving including an ace. McKenzie Rice had a kill and so did Anderson but Central also contributed with a slew of errors.
The lead grew to 23-6 before a sideout. A service error set up match point and, with Anderson serving, she closed it out on a free ball hit.
Bryant’s junior varsity team took control of the first game building up a 13-6 lead, gradually building it up to 18-10 when Courtney Davidson produced a sideout with a kill then served for the finishing 5-0 run. She had an ace along the way and Alex Boone finished it off with a kill.
The second game was marked by the serving of Britten Hays. Bryant led 5-4 after a net serve by Central and Hays rotated into service for the first time in the game. Sparked by a kill from Aubrey Allen, who led the team with seven in the match, the lead grew to 7-4.
A hitting error resulted in a sideout and the game stayed close until Hays’ turn came around again. Leading just 14-13, the Lady Hornets gained control on a service error by the Lady Tigers. During the closing 11-0 blitz, Allen had a kill and Central struggled with errors before Hays finished off the match with three straight aces.
She was good on all 12 of her serves. Carley Choate and Allen each added two aces while Caylin Choate and Davidson had one apiece.
Davidson finished with six kills while Allen and Erica Smith each had solo blocks. Carley Choate led the team with 15 assists. Caylin Choate came up with five digs.