SPORTS >>Belles get win over Cabot in 7A finale
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
It wasn’t the ending to the 7A-Central Conference season that the Lady Panthers had hoped for, as Mt. Saint Mary’s defeated Cabot in straight games, 25-25, 25-17 and 25-8 Thursday night in Little Rock at Mt. Saint Mary’s Academy.
The Lady Panthers (11-12, 4-8 conf.) took their turn holding the momentum over Mt. Saint Mary’s (26-7, 9-2 conf.) early in the first two games, but turned out their poorest performance all season in the third game, going scoreless in the frame until after the 12th point was scored by the Belles.
Junior outside hitter Katie Mantione kept the Lady Pan-thers in conten-tion early in the opening game with two kills that put Cabot up 3-1.
The Belles also committed a couple of early errors to give the Lady Panthers the initial advantage, but once MSM got completely warmed up, the momentum quickly changed. Mt. Saint Mary’s went from a two-point deficit to a five-point lead with seven straight points.
The Belles’ lead kept increasing from there, reaching double digits by the end of the frame to take the opening game by 10.
It was Mt. Saint Mary’s that took the initial lead in the second game, but the Lady Panthers quickly rallied to take 6-5 lead moments later. Mantione came away with another early kill, and also got help this time from sophomore hitter Tori Hendrix. Hendrix had two kills off of three attempts during the first six points to give Cabot its only lead for the remainder of the contest.
Just as in the opening game, the Belles overtook the momentum from Cabot and ran up the score. The Lady Panthers did manage to close to within four points with a brief run late, making the score 20-16, but Mt. Saint Mary’s then took five of the last six points to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set was all Belles. Senior Chyna Davenport started the game off behind the service line, and clicked off 12 straight points on serve including four aces. The ace that put MSM up by 10 landed in the middle of the court on Cabot’s side, with no attempt of a return by the Lady Panthers. Cabot coach Terry Williams called a timeout at that point to rally the troops, which seemed to shake off much of the lethargy.
The offensive highlights were few and far between for the Lady Panthers in the third and final game, although four Cabot players did get at least one kill. Hendrix led the way with two kills and a block, with Kelli Lowry, Erika McCaghren and Cody Smith all getting a kill as well. McCaghren also had a block late in the game, and Smith served up an ace to get the Lady Panthers’ second point of the game.
Hendrix led Cabot in scoring with six kills and three blocks. Mantione added four kills for the Lady Panthers. For Mt. Saint Mary’s, Ashley Spaulding and Katie Rowen each had five kills, and Davenport had eight aces.
Cabot will finish the season out on Monday with a non-conference match against Jonesboro Westside. The final outcome of state tournament qualification will be determined on Wednesday. As of last Wednesday, the Lady Panthers were fifth in the conference standings before the match with MSM.