By Chris Morgan
The Bryant Lady Hornets volleyball team earned their first 6A-Central Conference victory on Thursday night in straight sets over the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19.
“We have a lot of confidence when we play Central,” said Bryant head coach Beth Solomon. “I think that confidence might be just what we need to push us over to that knowing, and that winning mentality. That first win usually helps. We have confidence and that’s usually a big factor.”
Signs of good things to come for the Lady Hornets were evident from the opening serve, an Emma Buiting ace. Central responded with a point, but Ivory Russ had an answer putting a hard-hitting spike right into the Lady Tigers’ block and breaking the Central attempt at defense.
Madelyn Hoskins also came through with an early ace to put the Lady Hornets up 3-1.
A Bryant error cost the team a point, but senior Beatriz Hernandez and Faith Stone both produced kills, while Russ came up with a tip, and the Lady Hornets’ run would then be capped off with an ace from Hernandez, pushing the score 7-2.
A passing error cost the Lady Hornets, but the Lady Tigers also found trouble committing a double-touch foul. Both teams traded errors as Truli Bates and Stone combined on block to push the score to 11-4.
Bryant gave up four straight points before a Buiting kill produced a 12-8 lead. But a 1-3 swing in the score would pull the Lady Tigers within two points. Three quick points in answer re-established the Lady Hornets’ lead.
Yet again both teams traded errors before a Central block and kill pulled them within a point.
The Lady Hornets would be forced to use a timeout to adjust the game plan. When play resumed, Buiting came through with a kill to move the difference back to two points. A cross over foul and miss communication on defense kept the game close 20-19.
That’s when Shannon Stewart came through with an ace to spark Bryant to the victory.
Central was given the opening serve of game two, but the Lady Hornets were first to strike with a Hernandez kill. The Lady Tigers would answer with a tip while the Lady Hornets were caught off guard rotating back to defensive position.
The Lady Tigers had their first lead of the night with a block, making it 2-3. An attacking error put the Lady Hornets behind by two, but Bates responded with a kill. Bryant scored four straight, pushing out to a 7-4 lead before the Lady Tiger brought the score back within one.
The teams traded turns with short runs and it was 14-13 before the Lady Hornets picked up two points, one on an ace from Hoskins. A tip by Central interrupted before Bryant went on another seven-point run building a 24-15 lead. They finished off the Lady Tigers in game two with a kill from Bates.
A block and a Lady Hornet passing error put Bryant behind early in game three 0-2. A series of Lady Tiger errors allowed the match to stay close, however, until the first offensive score for Bryant, a block by Bates and Buiting making the score 4-6.
The Lady Hornets cut it to one point with a kill from Stone, but the Lady Tigers continued their surge making the score 5-9, resulting in a Bryant timeout.
The Lady Hornets pulled things together with back-to-back-to-back kills form Stone, Hoskins and Oyemola. But a serving error and a Central block kept some distance between the teams 9-13.
The struggling Lady Hornets needed a response and Cassie Ray delivered with two crucial aces to bring the game to one point 13-14. Central added two points to the lead, but back-to-back errors cost any chance of increasing the lead any further.
A kill from Stone tied the game 16-16 and the Lady Hornets went on a 5-1 run finished off with an ace from Bates. A Stewart ace set up match point for Bryant at 24-18. The Lady Hornets would allow one more point before closing out the night with a kill from Hoskins.
“[In the third game], I had a lot of confidence we were going to pull ourselves out of it, especially after the first two games,” Solomon said. “We did not have quite as much pep as we did Tuesday night, but I am still very proud of them for the win.”
The Lady Hornets are now 3-6-1 and 1-3 in the conference play. The Lady Hornets travel to Fort Smith Southside Tuesday to face off against the Lady Mavericks.