By Chris Morgan
LITTLE ROCK — Coming off their second 6A-Central Conference win over Mount Saint Mary Academy, the Bryant Lady Hornets fell behind 1-2 to the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers Tuesday night, before making a spirted two-game comeback to complete the season sweep of the Lady Tigers.
“We knew from talking to other coaches, [Central] had improved,” said head coach Leigh Ann Back. “It’s all a matter of believing we belong out there and believing we can do it.”
The Lady Hornets controlled game one taking the game 25-18 before falling in game two 22-25, again falling in game three 23-25. They rallied to win game four 25-20 and then closing out the match in a hard-fought game five 15-12.
In game one, both teams opened trading serving errors before the Lady Hornets opened up with the first earned point on a block from Ivory Russ.
Two Central aces gave the Lady Tigers their first earned lead of the night at 5-3.
Russ and Truli Bates would combine for a block to retie the match 6-6, before Central pulled away again, this time with a block followed by a kill to make the score 7-9.
The Lady Hornets would have a tough time containing the Lady Tigers, who pulled away to a 10-14 lead, forcing the Lady Hornets to call a timeout. The Lady Hornets would flip momentum, pulling even at 16-16.
The game remained at a stalemate to an 18-18 score before two attack errors caused the Lady Hornets to cross the 20-point mark causing Central to use their own tactical timeout.
The break didn’t help the Lady Tigers break the Lady Hornets’ spree as a defensive miscommunication and two passing errors let the Lady Hornets close out the win.
In their previous meeting, the Lady Hornets had swept the Lady Tigers, 3-0, but this time Central rallied.
Madelyn Hoskins would break open the Lady Hornets’ their first lead with an ace, before the Lady Tigers produced a kill to make the game 4-4.
With two blocks from Bates and two hard striking kills from Beatriz Hernandez, the Lady Hornets managed a 6-0 run and Central had to have a timeout.
The pause helped as the Lady Tigers managed four unanswered points bring the game within two 10-8.
The Lady Hornets answered with back-to-back kills from Hernandez and it was 13-9.
Bryant would hold the lead to a 17-12 advantage until a Central block swung the momentum. That sparked a 5-1 drive to trim the lead to one. The Lady Tigers would then mange to tie up the score 19-19.
With the game drawing to an end any mistake could prove costly so both teams played safe and fought the score to 22-22.
A block and a kill brought it to game point, before the Lady Tigers closed it out.
The Lady Hornets struggled early in game three falling behind 2-4. An ace from Central increased the lead to 7-4, before the Bryant came back to tie it at 9-9.
Two Central errors as well as a combo block from Hernandez and Bates gave the Lady Hornets the advantage 12-9. They held the lead before the Lady Tigers drew even on an attack error, 16-16
Both teams would battle back and forth for the rest of the match. It was 22-22 before a Lady Hornets serving error and a Central block pushed the Lady Tigers to set point.
The Lady Hornets fell behind again to start game four 0-3.
A kill from Hernandez and a tip from Russ aided in a rally. Back-to-back kills from Faith Stone lifted the Lady Hornets the lead 5-3. An ace from Hoskins had them up 7-4.
The Lady Tigers responded to bring the match back to one before the Lady Hornets pulled away again with a 9-2 run.
Bryant broke the 20-point mark with a five-point lead and the match went to a fifth game as the Lady Hornets road the advantage to the win.
The decisive game opened with back-to-back Lady Hornet aces from Emma Buiting. But both were countered by two missed passes making the game 2-2.
The Lady Tigers surged to a 6-2 lead, but the Lady Hornets would not quit. They rallied to a 6-7 score before Bates tied up the match with a block.
It was 10-10 before Cora Edwards came through with two crucial aces giving Bryant the advantage and swinging the momentum.
Central tried to re-group with a timeout but, after the break, Edwards extended the lead with yet another ace, making it 13-10. With the help of a pair of errors, the Lady Hornets reached match point on a tip from Lexi Brown.
On the final serve of the night, Buiting produced a game-ending ace to the center of the Lady Tiger defense to seal comeback.
“I think we’re getting there,” Back said. “We’ve been beaten up this season, so it’s going to take us a little while to start believing in ourselves. We’ve got a lot of little adjustment to make that will make big improvements.”