The Bryant Lady Hornets open play at the State Tournament in Cabot today at 4 p.m., against the host team. The Lady Panthers are the fifth seeded team from the 7A-Central while Bryant is the fourth seeded team from the West.
The Lady Hornets, with no seniors and only one player returning that say much varsity playing time back, have faced a bevy of injuries forcing head coach Beth Solomon to use about everybody in varsity games. The combination of youth and playing everyone who happened to be healthy for any given game has made for some inconsistency.
“It’s also been helpful in a way,” Solomon said. “Because they are all young, for future years, we’ve gotten more experience for all of our players early. It’s a good thing and a bad thing, I guess.”
The latest injury report started with the latest on sophomore Kendall Selig.
“Kendall’s out,” reported Solomon. “She had her surgery on Friday. We got Shayla (McKissock) back. That’s good because she’s a player. She’s scrappy. Kaci Squires went out. She’s got a broken arm. Nikki Clay, I don’t believe I’m going to be able to play her. Her shoulder — she’s not allowed to reach up. Emily Henson’s back from her knee injury but we’re still working her back to where she was.
“I have moved two ninth graders up, Alex Dillard and Tiberia Foote,” she noted. “I’m hoping if I really get in a bind, they’ll step up. Rylee Phillips had a little shoulder problem but I think she’s going to be okay to go. It’s just kind of day to day, who’s going to be able to play.
“We’ve still got some consistent players that thankfully are still healthy,” the coach continued, “Britney Sahlmann, our setter; Whitney Brown who’ll be playing back row, our libero. Of our hitters, Allie Anderson’s healthy. Mercedes Dillard’s healthy. She’s a pretty good leader on the court. Sierra Jones has been looking really good in practice the last few days.”
Solomon’s team got in some good competition the last week of the regular season, playing at Nettleton, a school with a strong program.
Regarding Cabot, she said, “I think they’re a pretty inconsistent team. They aren’t young like we are but they’re still back and forth. Obviously, our major challenge is going to be that we’re playing them on their home court.
“But we’re looking forward to it,” she asserted. “I think it will be good for us. If we can play like we did at Nettleton last Thursday, especially the way we did in the first game, we’ll be all right.”
Regarding preparations, the coach related, “The big thing we’ve been working on is our serving. It has started looking kind of rough. We missed several serves Thursday night at Nettleton — more serves than we have been. I don’t feel like we’ve been serving real aggressive lately. So we’ve been focusing on our serves and being aggressive as far as spot serving and that kind of stuff.
“The other thing is, we’ve got to finish the plays,” she said. “We’ve got to get our hitters finishing. We’re going to get those passes and get the sets, the hitters have got to be putting it down and not hitting it out the back. We’ve also focused on covering our hitters, getting it out of that block.
“It’s been a pretty positive atmosphere at practice,” Solomon concluded. “We’re hoping that holds up and continues into (Tuesday).”
CLASS 7A STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Tuesday, Oct. 29
Game 1 — North Little Rock (Central 4) vs. Springdale Har-Ber (West 5), 12 p.m.
Game 2 — Fayetteville (West 3) vs. Mount St. Mary (Central 6), 2 p.m.
Game 3 — Bryant (West 4) vs. Cabot (Central 5), 4 p.m.
Game 4 — Fort Smith Northside (Central 3) vs. Springdale (West 6), 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 30
Game 5 — Bentonville (West 1) vs. game 1 winner, 12 p.m.
Game 6 — Conway (Central 2) vs. game 2 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 7 — Fort Smith Southside (Central 1) vs. game 3 winner, 4 p.m.
Game 8 — Rogers Heritage (West 2) vs. game 4 winner, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 31
Game 9 — Game 5 winner vs. game 6 winner, 4 p.m.
Game 10 — Game 7 winner vs. game 8 winner, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2
Game 11 — Game 9 winner vs. game 10 winner, 5 p.m.