By Rob Patrick
CABOT — Coming off an emotional victory over the Mount St. Mary’s Belles last Thursday and trying not to look[more] forward too much to a first-place showdown at Conway next Tuesday, it figured that the Bryant Lady Hornets might have a little difficulty conjuring up a lot of emotion and intensity when they went to Cabot Tuesday night. It’s been a tough season for the Lady Panthers who are still looking for their first 7A/6A-Central Conference victory with the season winding down. Along the way, the Lady Hornets had accounted for one of their losses, a 3-0 sweep at Bryant.
That night, Sept. 8, the Lady Hornets were coming off a disappointing loss to Mount and they took a little frustration out on the Lady Panthers in their first game, with a 25-9 blitz. Though the second and third games were closer, the outcome was never really in doubt.
This time, the first game was a struggle. Cabot kept hanging around then made a push to get within two points of winning it. But, after a timeout, Alyssa Anderson smacked down a kill to break serve. She took over service and the Lady Hornets surged to victory. Brianna White scored off a solo block and Anderson delivered an ace before a hitting error by Cabot produced game-point.
Except for a brief series early in the third game, the Lady Hornets led the rest of the match, winning 25-23, 25-16, 25-17.
Bryant improved to 9-3 on the season and 8-2 in conference play, second only to Conway in the standings. North Little Rock came into the night tied with the Lady Hornets but suffered a 20-25, 25-18, 16-25, 25-20, 8-15 loss at Mount for its third league setback.
Bryant hosts Russellville on Thursday in the final home match of the season before finishing up with three tough road games including Conway on Oct. 11, Van Buren on Oct. 13, and North Little Rock on Oct. 18.
The State Tournament will be held at Conway beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25. The first and second place teams in the conference will earn a first-round bye.
As for Tuesday’s match at Cabot, Bryant head coach Beth Solomon agreed that her team probably expected it to be easier than it was.
“They finally decided, ‘We’re not going to let this happen,’ and they started playing,” she said. “I’m happy that we won but I’m not necessarily happy with the way we played.
“We knew coming in that this might be a harder week for us than next week because of the teams we’re playing,” the coach allowed.
“We played Mount Thursday night and we played them totally different than we played tonight.”
Solomon praised Anderson. “She had a perfect game tonight. She was 19 of 19 on serves with three aces and 19 of 19 on hits with nine kills.”
In all, eight Lady Hornets had kills. McKenzie Rice and Peyton Thacker had seven each and White had five. Hannah Rice contributed two solo blocks and White had a solo and an assist.
Hannah Rice was also 82 of 84 on her sets with 25 assists. She was 15 of 15 serving with an ace. Taylor West was good on all nine of her serves and Lauren Reed was 10 for 10.
As a team, the Lady Hornets only had two service errors.
Reed led the team with 10 digs, was 16 of 18 on serve-receives and was good on six of seven passes.
In the second game of the match, Anderson served the Lady Hornets to a 6-0 lead with White scoring on a block and contributing a kill during the run. McKenzie Rice also had a kill.
Cabot pulled within 18-14 but a kill by White broke serve. With Hannah Rice serving Thacker’s tip earned a point then an ace forced a Lady Panthers’ timeout. When play resumed, McKenzie Rice knocked down a kill to make it 22-14. She would add another kill and serve up an ace to help finish out the win.
The third game of the match was close much of the way. Cabot led 6-5 and 7-6 but kills by Thacker and Davidson put the Lady Hornets ahead to stay. Anderson and Hannah Rice combined on a block then Anderson added a kill to put the Lady Hornets ahead to stay.
Cabot was within 21-17 late but with Reed serving, the Lady Hornets close out the win with the help of a trio of hitting errors by the Lady Panthers and a kill by Thacker.