By Rob Patrick
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — If this was it; if the Bryant Lady Hornets’ hopes of reaching the Class 7A State Tournament in Van Buren ended on Tuesday, Oct. 20, with a 3-0 loss at North Little Rock; and, if this season begins a new era of success for the Lady Hornets program, the senior class of 2009 will at least be able to look back and say, “We were there. We helped turn it around.”
It won’t be certain until the coaches get together on Wednesday, Oct. 21, to compare scores but with their 11-25, 15-25, 14-25 loss at North Little Rock coupled with Cabot’s 3-1 win over Van Buren, the Lady Hornets may well have been knocked out of a State big despite being tied with Cabot for the sixth spot with a 6-8 league mark.
As best as can be determined, that’s the best conference record by a Bryant team this decade.[more]
In JV action, the Lady Hornets prevailed over North Little Rock, 25-20, 25-11.
The varsity loss was the third in a row for the Lady Hornets after they’d put themselves in position to make post-season play with four wins in five matches including a 3-2 victory over North Little Rock at Bryant.
But the Lady Hornets struggled on the road all season, with only a win at Little Rock Central among those six victories this season in seven league matches away from home.
“Here lately, it not that it’s been the road but since they beat Russellville in three and played their best match they’ve played, they just kind of got satisfied and stopped playing,” commented Lady Hornets head coach Beth Solomon. “When we go on the road, it seems worse than when we’re at home. That may be because, when we’re at home, they may feel like they’ve got to defend it at home.
“I think (against North Little Rock) a lot of our girls lacked the effort that it took,” she added. “It’s sad because we went into (the match) talking about, ‘Tonight’s important, it’s critical. We have to have it tonight.’
“I’m hoping that something will work and we can pull off still going to State,” Solomon mentioned. “I think these girls deserve to be there. But for some reason here late in the season, they couldn’t get over whatever it is that keeps them from playing.”
The Lady Hornets are set to host Sheridan for Senior Night on Thursday, Oct. 22. If they make it to State, they would open the tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m.
Against North Little Rock, Bryant struggled to get a roll going. After scoring the first point of the opening game, they fell behind 8-1. The closest they got after that was when they trimmed a 13-5 deficit to 15-10 with Brianna Hays and Kasey Baker serving. Kayla Davidson scored off a block then contributed a kill during that stretch which was also fueled by North Little Rock hitting errors.
But it went from 15-10 to 24-10 after that.
In the second game, North Little Rock pushed out to a 6-0 lead. After a service error gave Bryant control, a kill by Taylor Shutt made it 7-2 but the Lady Charging Wildcats surged to a 13-2 advantage.
It was then that the Lady Hornets put together their best run, trimming the margin to 16-12. Along the way, Davidson had a kill and Baker scored off a tip. Hays contributed an ace and Davidson pitched in two aces. A hitting error by North Little Rock cut the margin to 16-12 then the Lady Cats broke serve, scoring despite a block by Bryant. The ball just didn’t stay in for the Lady Hornets.
That was as close as they’d get.
In the third game, the two teams were close much of the way. An ace by Jordan Armstrong and kills by Armstrong and Peyton Thacker plus a block by Shutt had Bryant up 8-6. A long, hotly-contested volley followed with the Lady Hornets making an impressive save to keep it going but North Little Rock wound up spoiling the rally with the kill, then tied it 8-8.
Thacker had another kill and Jenna Bruick served up an ace during a stretch in which the Lady Hornets built their largest lead of the night at 12-8 but, after a timeout, North Little Rock went on a 15-0 run to take control of the game.
Davidson led the team with her two aces. Armstrong had 13 assists and Shutt led in kills with five. On defense, Baker had seven digs.
Regarding the JV match, Solomon said, “The JV, I thought, did a great job. They played their best game. As a matter of fact, the girls that went in for us from JV in the varsity game did a great job. Their stats show they were the ones that picked us up in varsity.”
Thacker and Taylor West each had two aces while serving in the JV match. Bruick led with eight digs. She also contributed seven kills. Lana Naumann had 11 assists and Maggie Hart led with 10 kills and three blocks.
“Maggie was a very consistent player for us tonight,” Solomon said.