File photo by Kevin Nagle
It was a splendid evening for the Bryant Lady Hornets Tuesday.
For one thing, they captured their first three-set sweep since their season-opening match against Fountain Lake when they dismissed the Alma Airedalettes, 25-8, 25-12, 25-12.
Meanwhile, the Mount St. Mary Belles were winning at Van Buren, 3-1, which made it official: The Lady Hornets have qualified for the Class 7A State Tournament in Fayetteville, Oct. 28-30.
As it stands, the Lady Hornets will be the number three seed from the Central Conference but they have a chance to move up to number two this Thursday when they host the league-leading Conway Lady Wampus Cats.
The win also came on the heels of a strong performance at a tournament in Russellville on Saturday in which they won the Silver division.
Bryant may be hitting its stride at about the right time.
“We played well,” said Bryant coach Lawrence Jefferson. “We played very confident, a complete game.
“At Russellville, we played really good on Saturday except for one game,” he noted. “Today, we showed up and it looked like everything we touched was good. Our passing was good, our hitting was good, sets — I can’t complain.”
The match was highlighted by the splendid serving of junior Britney Sahlmann. She was good on 29 of 31 serves with a whopping 10 aces, several of which came during a game-breaking run.
“I think it was 10-10 when she got the serve and when they finally broke it, it was 24-10,” Jefferson noted. “That’s a good run. She does a phenomenal job.”
Kendall Selig was good on all 10 of her serves and Nikki Clay got in 10 of 13. Whitney Brown (six), Allie Anderson, Mercedes Dillard and Abby Staton (five each) served with out errors.
Anderson finished with nine kills, Selig seven, Dillard three with Sahlmann and Clay adding two each. Alex Dillard and Rylee Phillips contributed one each. As a team, Bryant had just nine hitting errors and five service errors.
Sahlmann had 16 assists and Brown came through with 16 digs. Clay had 11.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Jefferson stated. “We play well in tournaments. I think the girls are feeling the season’s getting close to the end. Maybe we can make a good run.”
After Conway, the Lady Hornets travel to Siloam Springs for a final conference match then host Little Rock Central for Senior Night on Thursday, Oct. 23, to conclude the regular season.
The Lady Hornets opened the match with a 7-0 run and never trailed the rest of the match. Sahlmann contributed two of her aces in that opening salvo. Clay had a kill on a dink for the second point.
Bryant wound not let Alma maintain the serve. Selig broke serve with a kill and she rotated to the service line where the lead grew for 9-2 to 13-2. Alex and Mercedes Dillard combined to score off a block and Clay added another kill.
Hitting errors plagued the Airedalettes and with Clay in service, the margin grew to 19-3 with Mercedes Dillard contributing her first two kills, one on a dink.
Alma got within 8-21 but Sahlmann got a kill, went to the service line and contributed an ace as the Lady Hornets closed out the set.
The second set was tied was tied at 1 and 3 then tight until a hitting error cost Alma after an ace by Alyssa Hoyle had cut it to 7-9. With Brown serving, the Lady Hornets began to take control. Selig scored off a dink and a kill, Anderson pounded one for a kill and, after a brief interruption on a kill by Alma’s Taylor Short, Selig and Anderson traded kills as the lead grew to 16-10.
It was 17-11 when the Lady Hornets put together the closing 8-1 run with Clay and Mercedes Dillard serving. Clay, Sahlmann, Anderson and both Dillards contributed kills.
In the third set, the Lady Hornets started with a 4-1 run but Alma gamely rallied rallied to pull even at 5 then again at 10. A hitting error cost them control and Sahlmann took over from there with five of her aces during the late run. Anderson and Selig contributed kills during the stretch.
Sara Wilson ended the run after it reached 24-10. Short served up an ace but the match point came on an Alma hitting error right after that.