The Bryant Lady Hornets’ volleyball team hooked up with an old conference foe on Tuesday. The Lady Hornets played the Conway Lady Wampus Cats in Conway, but Bryant came out on the losing end, falling 3-1 (18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 19-25). The Lady Hornets had won the second set to tie the match at 1-1 and were up 15-9 before the Lady Cats came roaring back to win.
“I feel like that third game was kind of the turning point,” Bryant Coach Beth Solomon said. “We were up six and we let them come back, and it definitely took some of the wind out of [Bryant’s] sails. Then we came out that fourth game and weren’t really playing.”
Senior McKenzie Rice took senior Alyssa Anderson’s set for a kill in the third game to make it a 15-9 Lady Hornets’ lead, but Conway, which is part of Bryant’s old 7A Central Conference, responded in a big way. The Lady Cats scored 4 of the next 5 points before senior Brook Howell had a kill assisted by senior Hannah Rice to make it 17-13 Bryant. Conway would pick up its play and took advantage of Bryant mistakes to finish the set on a 12-2 run for the win.
“We missed way too many serves; way too many serves,” Solomon said. “We have to work on that. I thought we had worked on it and got it fixed for [Tuesday night] and then it was off again.”
Bryant (2-2), which is now part of the 7A/6A South Conference, got down 13-4 after a Conway 9-1 run including a 7-0 run in the fourth game and effectively ended the Lady Hornets’ night. Conway mistakes and a Courtney Davidson block allowed Bryant within 13-8, but a 4-1 run by Conway extended the lead and the Lady Cats held the Lady Hornets off from there.
“The good news about [Tuesday night] is [it’s] nonconference, didn’t hurt us,” Solomon said. “We just don’t get those extra points. We can still be conference champs. It didn’t hurt us.”
The Lady Hornets were down 12-5 in the first game before the Brook Howell show took place. Howell scored six Bryant points in a row, all from kills, during a 7-2 run to get the Lady Hornets within 14-12, but Conway would score the next four points on its way to a 25-18 win.
“Brook Howell heated up,” Solomon said. “There was some back-and-forth rivalry stuff going on today so she was pretty fired up and ready to play today. I thought she did great as far as her hitting went. Hannah did a great job for us setting tonight. She just gets upset when she misses her serves and we have to work on that.”
In the second set, Bryant held another 15-9 lead after Conway served the ball in the net, but the Lady Cats, like in the third game, went on a 5-1 run to get within 17-14, but the Lady Hornets would get an assist and kill from the Rice twins to make it 18-15, and Bryant staved Conway off to get the win capped by a Howell kill with the set coming from Hannah Rice.
“Overall, other than that fourth game, they played well; they played hard,” Solomon said. “Abby Staton (a sophomore who was 12 of 12 on serves) stepped up for us tonight. Britten Hays (knee) got hurt and we had to move her up. I thought she did a great job stepping up and her jump serve was on. Her serve was on, which was a big deal for us coming into a varsity game.”
Howell led the Lady Hornets with 13 kills, two aces, and tied for the lead with McKenzie Rice with 11 digs. Rice had 11 kills and two blocks, and Hannah Rice had 26 assists to lead the team.
“I thought we did well,” Solomon said. “Our girls played well together. They stepped it up. It’s more than we’ve done in a long time against Conway. Last year, we went four [games] with them, but we didn’t play like this. I’m proud of how they played.”