Lady Hornets capture back-to-back victories
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).
LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Lady Hornets volleyball team finally tasted victory and they liked it so much they tried it again.
After nine setbacks to open the season, the Lady Hornets hit the road and captured back-to-back AAAAA-Central Conference wins. On Tuesday, Sept. 28, they swept Little Rock Central, 25-19, 26-24, 25-18. On Thursday, Sept. 30, they out-lasted Little Rock Hall 25-21, 24-26, 25-17, 25-23, avenging a disappointing loss at home earlier in the season.
And not only did the varsity notch its first victories, so did the junior varsity squad, winning over Central 25-11, 16-25, 15-9, and over Hall, 11-25, 25-22, 15-13.
“The kids are really pumped up,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Doug Maxwell as his team looked ahead to a week of taking on conference powers North Little Rock and Conway. “It’ll be a completely different world from where we have been playing but, there again, you get a little confidence here and . . .
“Last time we played (North Little Rock), we blocked them really well but we were struggling offensively,” he added. “We really couldn’t get anything going, plus we were only serving about 75 percent. Now that percentage is up and we’re serving a lot more aces.”
At Central, the varsity win came despite the fact that, in the third game of the match, the Lady Hornets fell behind 10-0. But they stormed back to win.
“It’s good to get the first one under our belt,” said Maxwell. “We played pretty well. We didn’t really go out extremely aggressive but we played a pretty solid ballgame.
“It took the first game and midway through the second one, we were in control, and it kind of set in, ‘Hey, we might pull this one out,’” he continued. “The second one was a little too close for me then we go down 10-0 in the third one. But we out-scored them 25-8 after that. It was really kind of a new situation for the kids to get in position to win the match. The nerves started to set in a little in that third game. But they settled down and took back control of the match, no problem.”
Whitney Wingard and April Byington each had four kills in the match. Brittney Waddle added three. Wingard also had three stuff blocks and Byington two.
On the service line, Wingard came through with four aces, as did Amanda White. Morgan Hart had two aces to go with a team-high 14 assists.
Defensively, Wingard and Shannon Patrick each came up with four digs.
Maxwell called the junior varsity’s effort, its best all season. They were good on 91 percent of their serves and landed 18 aces to key the victory.
Against Hall, attacks were the difference for the Bryant JV, Maxwell said. “We finished with 13 kills in that match,” he noted. “They really stepped it up. And our serving was there again. We finished with 10 aces.
“That group’s coming along,” Maxwell added. “I think playing against the varsity group, they’re starting to step up and make things a little more challenging for the varsity.”
And, as it turned out, a pair of the JV players came through to help in the varsity victory at Hall. A couple of the players in the regular rotation were having a tough serving game, so Maxwell subbed in juniors Lindsey Miller and Ashley Dirlam.
“Between the two of them, they went 7 for 7 with two aces,” Maxwell noted. “That’s a good situation when you can call on some of the younger ones to step in. That helped take some of the pressure off.
“We dropped the first (conference) game of the year against Hall when we thought we had a chance at winning it,” Maxwell recalled. “That was still sitting in the back of our minds. But the girls came out and played hard against them.
“Hall’s a scrappy team. They weren’t really hitting the ball but they were tipping a lot and free-balling a lot things over, creating a little havoc for our defense. But we settled down and took control after the second game.”
Wingard came through with 11 kills. Byington had five, Caitlin Henthorne 4 and White 3. The Lady Hornets served up a whopping 23 aces, getting 91 percent of their serves in. Courtney Shuffield had eight of those aces, Hart six and White three. Hart also contributed 18 assists and three digs. White had three digs, as well.
“Morgan did a good job of spreading things out for our hitters and giving us some good opportunities,” Maxwell noted.