Lady Hornets honor seniors after tough first-match loss

For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here and here

Shaylee Carver (26) sets the ball for Sammie Jo Ferguson. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Though the results of their first match wasn’t what they’d hoped for, the Bryant Lady Hornets celebrated on Tuesday night anyway. With a nod to the COVID-19 virus, which remains a threat to high school sports this fall, the Lady Hornets celebrated Senior Night after their match with the Hot Springs Lakeside Lady Rams.

Seniors Olivia German, Sam Still, Erin Key, Ella Reynolds, Jaiyah Jackson, Alyssa Hernandez, Madelyn Hoskins, Sammie Jo Ferguson, Shaylee Carver and Cassie Land were honored by their teammates, fans and coaches in the annual ceremony that usually is reserved for the final home match.

Lakeside, however, put a bit of a damper on the proceedings by handing the Lady Hornets a 3-0 loss, 22-25, 14-25, 11-25.

With a sizable home crowd and those ceremonies in the offing, the Lady Hornets started their match well, playing with emotion and intensity. They led most of the first game. Ferguson’s kill started the contest, but Lakeside scored the next three points before Reynolds’ kill and a receive error by the Lady Rams had the score even at 3.

Alyssa Hernandez digs up a hit alongside Jaiyah Jackson. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

A kill by Ferguson tied it at 4 then consecutive spikes for points by sophomore Kinsey Gregory and Hoskins gave the Lady Hornets the upper hand. Hoskins had two more kills in short order and an ace served up by Lily Studdard helped push the lead to 9-5.

After a hitting error cost a sideout, Gregory countered with consecutive blocks to make it 11-6, Bryant’s largest lead of the night. It was 12-7 after Gregory and Camryn Martin, another sophomore, combined on a block.

But that’s when Lakeside steadily began to rally sparked by a pair of dinks that had the Lady Hornets scrambling. Martin’s kill helped but then a service error and a hitting error cost Bryant as the Lady Rams cut the margin to 13-12. 

Madelyn Hoskins (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

A tip by Reynolds and a service error by Lakeside had the Lady Hornets up 15-13 but a pair of errors cost them as the Lady Rams pulled even at 15.

Hoskins’ kill gave Bryant its final lead. Lakeside scored the next five points to build a 20-16 edge, forcing Lady Hornets head coach Leigh Ann Back to call a timeout.

When play resumed, Reynolds powered back-to-back kills and Hoskins served an ace and the Lady Hornets were only down 19-20. Lakeside put together a push to 23-19 before Reynolds gave Bryant hope with a kill followed by an ace from Jackson. 

A block returned service to the Lady Rams and, despite one more kill from Reynolds, they closed out the first game.

Bryant never led in the second game. Lakeside pushed out to a 6-2 lead. After a service error by the Lady Rams, Hoskins scored with a tip then a kill as the lead was whittled to 6-5. 

But Lakeside maintained. The Lady Hornets were down 8-12 before kills by Reynolds and Ferguson narrowed the difference only to have the Lady Rams finish with a flurry.

In the third set, Ferguson gave the Lady Hornets life initially. She had a kill then Still served up consecutive aces. A tip by Ferguson had Bryant up 4-1. Another Ferguson kill had the Lady Hornets ahead 5-3 but Lakeside countered with a 5-0 run that the Lady Hornets could never quite overcome.

Bryant will return to action on Thursday at Pulaski Academy. A home match against Greenbrier on Tuesday, Sept. 1, will lead into the Lady Hornets first 6A-Central Conference match at home against Fort Smith Northside on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Bryant head coach Leigh Ann Back, lower right, and assistant Lawrence Jefferson, upper left, gather their team together during a timeout. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

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