It was a rough start to the season for last year’s 6A South Conference champions. The 6A South Benton Lady Panthers’ volleyball team went up against last year’s 7A Central Conference champion Conway Lady Wampus Cats and came out on the wrong end of a sweep. The Lady Panthers fell 0-3 (16-25, 16-25, 7-25) as they made too many errors against a powerhouse.
“We let too many balls hit and they’re a very good team,” Benton Coach Brandy Chumley said. “They move the ball well and dug all of ours up. We were trying to hit a certain spot and either our pass wasn’t there or our set wasn’t there. It was hard to get anything going.”
Junior Allison Reynolds got an assist from senior Erin Jackson for a kill helping the Lady Panthers to a 3-1 lead to start the first set. Benton let Conway get up 5-3, but the Lady Panthers scored three straight to take a one-point lead including a kill from junior Xandra Lock.
Conway would go on a 5-1 run to make it 10-7, but a kill and block from senior Alex Williams propelled the Lady Panthers to a 5-0 run and 12-10 advantage. What looked like some serious momentum for Benton went to Conway as the Lady Panthers scored just four more points the rest of the way as errors and Conway's solid play doomed Benton.
"We played with them that first game," Chumley said. "If we continue to do that for three games, we’ll be all right. But they picked it up and we really didn’t. We kind of went down from there."
Conway took an 8-4 lead in the second game before Lady Wampus Cat errors gave the Lady Panthers three consecutive points to get within one, but Conway cleaned its play up to take an 18-11 lead. Reynolds, Jackson and Lock had kills during a 5-2 run to get within 20-16, but Conway would score the final five points including two unforced errors from Benton.
"It’s very frustrating, but we’ve got the talent," Chumley said. "Just go to work tomorrow and keep pushing. That’s all we can do."
Benton (0-1) got off to an 11-0 deficit in the third set and was never in the game as bad passes kept the Lady Panthers from coming back. Conway, which lost in the 7A State semifinals last year, is too good a team to make many errors against.
"They’re a very good team," Chumley said. "I hope we can keep our heads up because we’re not going to see that in our conference and that’s a good thing. We’re better than what we played tonight. We just got to pick it up and get it all together."
Lock had six kills in the match to lead the Lady Panthers and Reynolds had three. Williams had two kills and Jackson and junior Stacy Cooper had a kill apiece.
The Lady Panthers will play next in the Spikefest Tournament in Little Rock on Saturday.
We made a lot a lot of errors and we have to eliminate that.