Going up against a very good Cabot Lady Panthers team Thursday in Bryant, the Lady Hornets lost a heartbreaker at the Hornet’s Nest in 6A Central Conference play. Coming away with a 25-18 win over the Lady Panthers in the first set, Bryant fell by a total of just eight points the next three sets to take a 3-1 (25-18, 24-26, 23-25, 21-25) loss.
“We played our best match of the year, the level we should have been playing all year,” Bryant Coach Leigh Ann Back said. “We made a few untimely mistakes at the end of the second set, and then did the same thing again in the third set.
“There was some vast improvement, but as any coach is, I’m still not happy (with the loss). We’re on the right path. Hopefully we’ll stay that way and we won’t have a train wreck soon, but we’re on the right path right now.”
The Lady Hornets had been on a two-game win streak, but fell to 2-4 overall, 2-3 in the Central, while Cabot improves to 6-2, 4-1 and tied for first in conference play.
Back explained her reasoning as to why the Lady Hornets played such a tough match, despite the loss.
“The big differences that I saw is we had a couple of players that hadn’t been playing up to their level, and they stepped up and played (Thursday),” she said. “Jaiyah Jackson has been struggling from the service line and that has kind of gotten into her head and affected her game overall. She was phenomenal from the line (Thursday) and back to her good old self covering the floor. Madelyn Hoskins was much more dominating than she’s been since I moved her back to the middle.”
But, the Lady Hornets couldn’t keep the serenity they had in the first set going for the final three, despite the close games.
“I think the big thing that I noticed in the first set is they were so calm and so confident,” Back said. “Even when making a mistake they didn’t get rattled. In the second set, they would get rattled by a mistake and it allowed the other team to get on a little bit of a roll, and we would have to make up. The calmness and the confidence we had in the first set did not stay throughout the match.”
Bryant senior Ella Reynolds led the way with 12 kills on the night, followed by senior Sammie Jo Ferguson’s eight kills and three blocks. Senior Madelyn Hoskins had five kills and three blocks, with sophomore Lily Settle adding four kills.
Senior Samantha Still led the way with 23 digs, with Reynolds and Jackson digging up 13 apiece. Jackson also led the Lady Hornets with three service aces and also had a 96 percent serve percentage. Senior Shaylee Carver added two aces and led Bryant with 17 assists, while junior Lily Studdard had 15 assists.
The Lady Hornets will hit the road Tuesday to North Little Rock to take on the Lady Charging Wildcats. Bryant hosts Conway Thursday to wrap up the first go-around in Central play.
“I’m hoping that after (Thursday) we’re on the right path and it should make it a lot more fun from now on,” Back said.