RUSSELLVILLE — In what was a conference match then wasn’t then was again, the Bryant Lady Hornets[more] opened the 2012 volleyball season with a sweep of the Van Buren Lady Pointers, 25-10, 25-15, 25-7 at Russellville High School on Tuesday night.
In a JV game, Van Buren prevailed 25-17, 25-20.
Alyssa Anderson contributed five kills, two solo blocks and a blocking assist while serving up three aces to spark the varsity. Hannah Rice added six aces and 20 assists.
“We had a great start to our season,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Beth Solomon. “Beating Van Buren 3-0 was a great way to get the girls going. We still have some kinks but, overall, we had a great game.”
The win counts as a conference game for Bryant, which will be playing in the 7A/6A-South but will be seeded for the Class 7A State Tournament with the teams from the West. Because Pine Bluff, a member of the South, has no volleyball program, the Lady Hornets had to count two (previously non-conference) contests against 7A teams as substitute conference games for seeding purposes. Van Buren was one of those designated by the Arkansas Activities Association. The other will be against Conway on Aug. 28. Both were league rivals of the Lady Hornets' in the Central Conference in recent years.
The Lady Hornets will play their first home match against Fountain Lake this Thursday.
“We are continuing to work on our serving,” Solomon stated. “That’s one thing that we focused on (Monday) in practice. The girls are serving very aggressively and it seems to be making a difference in the way we play.
“Our hitting was on tonight,” she added. “Hannah did a great job of getting the set where her hitters like it. The hitters put it away. We were running special plays and putting the ball in holes on the other side of the court. The girls played very smart.
“Alyssa had a great night,” the coach noted. “She played the net well and was 100 percent on her serving. Hannah also had a great night. She has a very powerful jump serve that Van Buren was having a hard time receiving.”
Solomon also praised her libero, Rochelle Aguilar. “She did a good job. We expect Rochelle to be there to cover her teammates on every ball. She did that tonight and had eight digs to show for it.”
After a strong first game, the Lady Hornets found themselves trailing 5-2 early in the second.
“We had a little bit of a late start in the second game,” Solomon acknowledged. “We missed two serves in a row. The girls put it back together though and were able to pull out the second game, and then the third.
“It’s hard to be upset with the girls for missing a serve when we serve as aggressively and as powerfully as we do, but our serves are one thing that we can absolutely control. We can’t miss serves.”
In the JV match, Erica Smith had two aces, two kills, a solo block and a blocking assist. Rylee Phillips went 5 for 5 on her serves and contributed five digs, two kills and a blocking assist.
“Erica even went in and played back row for a little while,” Solomon noted. “She’s predominantly a front row player. Rylee had a good game.
“The girls are still young and learning,” Solomon said of the JV. “They’ll get where we need them to be. It’s just getting them used to playing with each other on the court. We’re still working on being vocal as well as moving our feet. They’ll get there.”
Thursday’s matches will begin with a JV contest at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity.