VAN BUREN — The stat sheet for the Bryant Lady Hornets’ 7A/6A-Central Conference match against the[more] Van Buren Lady Pointers has some figures in some unusual places.
Sophomore back row player Ashlee Caton is listed with a team-high eight kills, four solo blocks and a two assists. Senior passer Taylor West has seven kills. Sophomores Kaley Coppock and Caylin Choate add five and four kills, respectively with Choate, a setter, getting two solo blocks.
In addition, Peyton Thacker, a senior outside hitter, is credited with 25 assists on 68 of 70 sets. Kaylon Wilson is credited with 15 good serve-receives and 6 of 7 good serves with an ace. Coppock had 13 good serves on 14 tries with three aces. Choate was 11 for 11.
The thing is, none of those girls are listed as having played in the match which the Lady Hornets swept, 25-23, 25-19, 25-8 to keep their hold on second place in the conference. A spot they could clinch — along with the first-round bye at State that goes with it, if they win at North Little Rock next Tuesday.
“The girls played for each other,” explained Lady Hornets head coach Beth Solomon. “They each wore someone else’s jersey and gave their stats to that person. We used our normal rotation but the stats went to other players.”
It was all part of a team-building exercise Solomon and assistant coach Julie Long put into place instead of practice on the day before the match.
“After (losing at) Conway on Tuesday night, we realized that our girls needed some really strong team-bonding activities,” Solomon said. “They have the skills they need. Too many times, especially of late, we’ve been unsuccessful on the court because we’re not playing as one unit. Instead, we’re six separate units on the court. Wednesday, we worked to fix that and last night it seemed — no, it did work.
“Our defense had a stellar night,” Solomon stated. “We refused to let a ball hit the ground and refused to let Van Buren get any cheap shots on us. The girls were ready to win in three, despite it being Van Buren's senior night.
“Their big hitter that got to us the first time we played them wasn't able to get anything on us because we were all over them,” she continued. “We played smart, placed the ball where there were holes, and we were successful.
“We overcame the plateau that we'd settled into and have started going up again,” the coach mentioned. “We'll continue to go up through the rest of conference play and on into our state tournament play before we peak for the season. Teamwork will be the key to our remaining success.
“It was an amazing night for our girls,” asserted Solomon. “I am extremely proud to be the Bryant volleyball coach.”
In a JV match, Bryant prevailed 21-25, 25-15, 15-8. Britten Hays was credited with 13 kills on 16 of 16 attacks. Setter Carly Choate added six kills on 12 of 13 attacks to go with two solo blocks and two assists.
Sophomore middle hitter Erica Smith had 20 assists. Senior Lauren Reed, who didn’t play in the match, had 13 of 13 good serves with an ace and junior Rochelle Aguilar had 11 good serves with three aces. Reed and junior hitter Courtney Davidson led with eight digs each.