Leader Blues

Monday, August 27, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot wins in tri-match

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Lack of size and seniors made 2006 a little trying for the Lady Panthers at times last season, but those two problems appear to be things of the past after a very successful opening week this year. Cabot beat both Morrilton and Lonoke during a tri-match Tuesday at the Panther gym, and downed Morrilton again on Thursday in a regulation match in five sets.

Cabot’s overall hitting has started out especially strong. Senior Katie Mantione and junior Tori Hendrix handled the bulk of the hitting duties as expected, and racked up some impressive early-season numbers in the Thursday match against Morrilton.

Mantione recorded 20 kills on nine errors for a .256 percentage, while Hendrix managed 25 kills on just four errors for a .389 average. The overall team hitting ended up at .299, just one tick away from the desired .300 mark.

While the first week has been strong for the Lady Panthers, there has been an odd glitch in their second game performances. Cabot has dominated every first game of its first three matches, but has experienced systematic breakdowns heading into the second game. The second game against Morrilton on Thursday was actually the Lady Panthers’ first lost game, followed by another struggling frame in game three.

Lady Panthers coach Terry Williams attributes the game two struggles to lost focus. She believes that too much of a relaxed attitude after winning the openers have caused the troubles in the following game.

“I think it all starts when you have to switch benches,” Williams said. “We move to the other side of the court and don’t get back down to business. Our second game has been weak in every game. We have to get it more consistent.”

Sara Fuller would take leading hitter honors during Tuesday’s tri-match, ending up with a .389 percentage for the night. The team hit .250 overall against Lonoke and Morrilton, with a perfect 24 for 24 serving performance by Whitney High.

The Thursday match with Morrilton ended up going the distance. Cabot took game one 25-16, but gave up game two 13-25. The Lady Devil Dogs also took game three 22-25, but the Lady Panthers came back to claim the final two games 25-22 and 15-10.

“I think they proved to themselves that they can be competitive,” Williams said. “For the first week, they did a really good job of taking care of the ball.” Williams was also pleased with the effort by her team Thursday with one starter on the bench. Morgan Young sat out the Morrilton match while under the weather, and Williams said the team responded well.

“They had to do a lot of shifting around and adjusting,” Williams said. “They pulled together and put in a good effort. They handled the line-up change really well.”

The Lady Panthers have one more non-conference match with Beebe on Thursday in Cabot, and will begin conference play the following Thursday at Russellville.