Lady Hornets earn first two wins in conference
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The Bryant Lady Hornets volleyball team has earned their first two wins of the season, both conference contests, including one in three straight over the Little Rock Hall Lady Warriors on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Bryant’s first win was a mammoth struggle in five games at Little Rock Parkview on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The Lady Patriots won the first game 25-22 but Bryant came back to win the next two 25-17, 25-20. Parkview stayed alive with a 25-22 win only to have the Lady Hornets take the match 15-11 in the tiebreaker.
After losing at Little Rock McClellan, 12-25, 25-22, 10-25, 14-25, on Tuesday, Sept 13, the Lady Hornets returned home to roll past Hall, 25-11, 25-10, 25-23.
Of the win over Parkview, head coach Doug Maxwell said, “We came out slow in the first game. I thought we should’ve won that one. If so, we would’ve won it in three. In the fourth game, we led all the way until they tied it up at 19-19, then we wound up losing. But then we turned around and pulled it out in the last game.
“I was really proud of the way we played,” he added. “We showed a lot of heart there.”
Caitlin Henthorne led the Lady Hornets with 25 kills in the match. April Byington added 23 and sophomore Tiffany Davis pitched in with 7.
“We really stepped it up there,” Maxwell said. “I thought my setters did a good job. Morgan Hart is still as consistent as ever. She finished with 30 assists on the night.”
Sophomore Jessica Akin contributed 20 assists.
Defensively, Hart came through as well with 30 digs. Akin had 29, Henthorne 26, Randi Juliusson 21 and Byington 19.
“It was just a solid defensive effort,” praised the coach. “Really, our defense kept us in it. They really got fired up, really hit the ball good. When they went to tipping and trying to go aggressive there but we stayed solid so I was really proud of the way we played.”
Against McClellan, the Lady Hornets just saw too much of the Lady Lions’ high-flying Nyeshia Stevenson. A three-sport star, Stevenson, already around six feet tall, was not only a top sprinter but had the state’s top high jump during the 2005 track season at 5 feet, 8 inches and wound up the Class AAAAA champion in the event.
“She’s an outstanding athlete,” Maxwell acknowledged. “Her vertical is over 30 inches. She jumps through the roof. It’s just a matter of feed her the ball and stay out of the way.
“We struggled,” he allowed. “Our girls really feed off our defense play and our blocks and the way (Stevenson) was going straight over the top of our block and just going right down behind them, we were having a lot of trouble digging her up. We’re still a fairly young team and it was tough to get any rhythm going.”
Henthorne had 16 kills in the match for the Lady Hornets. Byington had 7 and Juliusson 5.
But the Lady Hornets came back against Hall.
“They did a whole lot of free ball and a whole lot of tipping, not a lot of offense from them,” said Maxwell of the Lady Warriors. “It really forced us to kind of have to read and see what the ball was doing. I was really proud of the way we stayed focused. I wasn’t sure how we’d react coming from McClellan, the effort we put out there, but I was really pleased with the way we played.
“Our serving was on top of its game,” he said. “We only finished with four errors on the night serving. And we had 11 aces against them.”
Shannon Patrick was 20 for 20 on her serves and accounted for five of those aces.
“I’ve got several that I can count on every time they get back there, serving aggressive,” Maxwell noted. “Between Shannon and Morgan and April, all three of them are serving around 97 percent. I can count on at least one of them being hot. They’re always looking over, trying to find the holes. Shannon was on fire (against Hall), placing the ball and making it difficult. She had five aces but a lot of her serves limited what they could do with it.”
Henthorne had 26 kills in 30 attacks. Hart led with nine digs and Byington had two blocks.