Lady Hornets make State
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
The Bryant Lady Hornets volleyball team couldn’t have picked a better time to play perhaps their best match of the season.
Needing a win over the North Little Rock Lady Cats to have a chance to qualify for the Class 7A State Tournament in Springdale, the Lady Hornets pounded their way to a 3-0 sweep, 25-21, 25-16, 25-8, on Tuesday, Oct. 21, then awaited word from Conway on the outcome of the Lady Wampus Cats’ match with Little Rock Central.
And there were plenty of happy Lady Hornets when it was reported that Conway had defeated Central forging a tie for sixth in the league and because the Lady Hornets defeated Central both times they played, the bid belonged to them. Bryant was set to open State play on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m. against Springdale Har-Ber.
“I told the girls in the locker room, I still don’t think they’ve played their best volleyball yet,” said Lady Hornets coach Doug Maxwell. “But they’re getting better and they’re playing better together and I think they’re intensity level is coming up. So, I’m excited for us. Hopefully, we can make a run at this thing. I think a lot of the teams peaked early and might be struggling as of late, while we just keep getting better and better as we go along.”
The team nearly clinched the spot the previous Thursday when they were on the verge of defeating the Van Buren Lady Pointers. After losing the first game of the match 17-25, the Lady Hornets had won two straight 25-21, 25-17 only to have Van Buren rally in the fourth game to avoid the loss, 26-24, and continuing the surge in the decisive game five for a 15-11 win and the 3-2 match.
Against North Little Rock, the Lady Hornets pounded 26 kills as a team with Ty Lindberg leading with eight, Fallon Warner adding seven and Kayla Davidson and Taylor Shutt adding five each.
They also served at a 92 percent success clip with only five errors and 14 aces. Heather Light and Jordan Armstrong had five each and Kayla Davidson three.
“This is the first time really that we’ve played consistent throughout a match,” Maxwell stated. “I told the girls tonight I was really pleased. We played on an even keel, came out at a good intensity level and stayed there. That’s one of those things with consistency we’ve been working on. They didn’t let anything get them down. We got down a few points but they kept their heads up and stayed focused on it and came back without trying to take it all at one place. It was just one point at a time and they kept working.
“We played with the same intensity against Van Buren but we’d be up for awhile then we’d turn around and we’d drop,” he noted. “We lost a close game four and we went timid. We went to trying to go with tips when the back row was digging up lots of things and the front row had really been putting a lot of balls down. But when we went timid about halfway through game four, we wound up losing that one 24-26 then we had the same problem in game five. We had a chance and just couldn’t maintain.”
The defense against North Little Rock was pretty tough too. The team amassed 54 digs including a whopping 18 by Davidson. Lindberg had seven, Brittany Hurd and Morgan Crider six apiece.
“The back row, I thought, played outstanding for us, taking away a lot of their tips,” Maxwell noted. “Every time (North Little Rock) went to those tips which have hurt us all season — even the first time we played North Little Rock we got up early and then they went to that tip and that was our demise. But the back row responded well tonight.”
In the first game of the match, the Lady Hornets trailed 10-6 but Shutt got a kill to turn the tide. With Davidson and then Armstrong serving, they surged to a 14-11 lead and didn’t trail the rest of the game.
In the second game, North Little Rock went up 5-1 and led again 10-6 when Bryant started its rally. The Lady Hornets led 17-13, gave up a point but got rolling again and closed it out with an 8-3 run capped by a pair of kills by Warner.
The third game was all Bryant. With Armstrong serving to start the contest, the Lady Hornets rolled out to a 9-0 lead. North Little Rock got within 10-6 but never closer.
Against Van Buren, the Lady Hornets piled up 48 kills led by Lindberg’s 17. Warner added 10 and Davidson nine. Lindberg and Davidson were also each in on nine blocks and the Lady Hornets served at a 90 percent clip. Davidson had eight aces, Hurd four. Lindberg, Light and Davdson each had 24 digs.