RUSSELLVILLE — The Bryant Lady Hornets played lost of volleyball on Saturday at the Volley N The Valley tournament and that, for head coach Beth Solomon, was perhaps the best thing about being having her young team there.
“Overall, we did what we needed to do Saturday. We got better,” she declared. “That’s what our goal was. Saturday also helped us get ready for this week.”
The Lady Hornets take on a pair of South Conference foes this week, visiting Sheridan on Tuesday and hosting Texarkana on Thursday.
Bryant went 1-1-2 in pool play at Saturday’s event. It was 25-21, 17-25 to finish the morning against Morrilton. Prior to that, it was 15-25, 25-19 versus Springdale Har-Ber; 18-25, 13-25 against Mount St. Mary Academy; and 25-8, 25-5 against Little Rock J.A. Fair.
In bracket play, the Lady Hornets edged Alma, 25-20, 23-25, 15-12 before Russellville ended their bid for the title, 20-25, 13-25.
The girls played hard against Russellville,” Solomon said. “Russellville was the 6A State champion last year and lost few players. Our girls put up a great fight and finished the day playing well.”
Mercedes Dillard served up two aces, had a kill, a block, an assist and a dig against the Lady Cyclones. Kendall Selig served up an ace and had two kills and a dig. Allie Anderson led the team with four kills adding a block and a dig. Britney Sahlmann finished with a kill, seven assists and two digs.
Whitney Brown came up with a team-high five digs. Nikki Clay had four to go with an assist. Clay also had two kills, Sierra Jones one.
Bryant had just one service error in 34 attempts.
In the win over Alma, Clay stepped up with eight kills. Anderson added six and Jones five. Selig and Sahlmann had three each.
In service, Anderson led with three aces. Abby Staton and Sahlmann had two each. Sahlmann added a block, a dig and 22 assists. Shayla McKissock finished with six digs, Clay five and Brown three.
Regarding pool play, Solomon said, “The girls, overall, had a good morning. We finished out with Morrilton and we split with them. We looked really lazy and we weren’t playing as hard as we usually do. After getting onto the girls, it dawned on me that they hadn’t eaten yet, and I’m sure that’s part of why we looked so lazy the last game. They basically played four games (eight sets) straight, with about a 20 minutes rest period because of some considerable rearranging on the host school’s part.”
In the Morrilton match, Jones came through with seven kills, Anderson six. Sahlmann finished with four aces, a kill, a block, six digs and 13 assists. Dillard contributed two aces, a block and a dig. Staton and McKissock picked up four digs each.
“We picked up an extra match with Springdale Har-Ber,” Solomon noted. “This didn’t count for or against us in pool play and getting seeded into the bracket, but it did count for Har-Ber.
“Our girls played okay the first game and the score reflected that,” she added. “For the second game, we came out on fire and really stepped it up. I volunteered for us to take on this extra game so that we could play some more 7A volleyball. It’s hard to go into State tournament after having no 7A schools in your conference.”
Bryant is the lone 7A school in the South.
Against Har-Ber, Clay contributed four kills, Selig three with Anderson and Jones getting two each. Sahlmann and Dillard had three aces apiece in another solid serving match for the Lady Hornets (97.4 percent). Sahlmann had 10 assists and Staton two digs.
“We beat J.A. Fair in our first game of the day,” Solomon said. “We knew what to expect coming straight from playing them Thursday night (in a conference match). It was a good warm-up game for the girls to start the day. We went straight into our next pool play game with Mount Saint Mary. The girls fought hard but we couldn’t pull off a victory with them. We did play fairly consistently and hard against them.”
Against Mount, Anderson served for four aces and added a kill. Selig, Dillard, Clay and Jones had two kills apiece. Sahlmann picked up 10 assists to go with a block and two digs. Selig added a block with Brown, McKissock, Clay and Staton each recording two digs.
Against Fair, Sahlmann led the team with nine aces. Staton and Selig added three each, Anderson and McKissock two apiece. Anderson led with five kills and Sahlmann finished with eight assists.