SPORTS>>Lady Panthers come up short against Belles
Cabot rallied for a big win in Game 1 before Mt. Saint Mary swept the final three frames on Tuesday to hand the Lady Panthers their second conference loss of the season. The absence of senior Sarah Fuller made Cabot a little less potent against the Belles, who took games two through four, 11-25, 21-25, and 20-25 at Panther Pavilion.
Morgan Young’s court leadership went a long way for the Lady Panthers during the match, as they recovered from an early 9-2 deficit in Game 1 to win 25-22, but MSM shut down the standout senior and teammates Brittany Basye and Katie Burchfield in the second game.
The final two games went down to the wire, with Cabot leading most of Game 3 before a Belles’ rally gave them a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth frame. The Lady Panthers had one final chance to stay in the match in Game 4, but the frequent substitutions for the Belles gave them fresher legs.
Young led the Lady Panthers with 17 kills, with 10 kills by Basye. Burchfield added six strikes for Cabot. The Lady Panthers finished with 11 team blocks.
Fuller returned for Thursday’s match against Van Buren, as the Lady Panthers swept the contest 25-12, 25-18 and 25-18 to improve their record to 10-3 overall and 5-2 in the 7A-Central Conference.
Young led scoring once again for Cabot with 19 kills, while Fuller, recovered from her injury at the Russellville tournament last weekend, added five more kills. Burchfield also finished with five, while Basye added four kills.
The Lady Panthers will travel to Jonesboro to compete in the ASU Invitational this weekend, and will return to league play on Tuesday at Russellville.
The Lady Falcons were one game away from handing Mills University Studies its first loss of the season, but a disastrous Game 5 allowed the Lady Comets to cruise to the finish in a 5-game shootout.
North Pulaski (5-3, 3-1 conf.) took Game 1 26-24 before Mills (8-0, 4-0) claimed the next two 20-25 and 23-25. The Lady Falcons hung on for a 25-22 win in Game 4 to send the match to a fifth and final game.
That’s where the wheels came off for the Lady Falcons, as Mills rushed out to a 13-3 lead, eventually taking the win 15-9 to claim a 3-2 overall win.
It was the Lady Comets who struggled early on in the fourth game. A pair of kills by junior Rae Robinson that sandwiched back-to-back aces by Kaylee Belcher quickly got North Pulaski out to a 6-1 lead, and consecutive blocks by Laura Dortch kept the Lady Comets out of their offensive rhythm until they began a furious rally after getting down 21-11.
Senior Kalayah Anderson came up big defensively for the Lady Falcons on the night, with a number of critical digs. She had to hit the floor for a few of those digs, mostly to offset the potency of MUS outside hitter Carrollee Charping.
The NP offense had been consistent most of the night, but only two kills in the final game allowed the Lady Comets to stay on top of the 5A-Southeast Conference standings.
“The better part of the last half, I want back,” NP coach Amanda Hill said. “I was proud of the kids and they played hard, but in the fifth game, they just lost it.”
The disappointment of the Lady Falcons’ first conference setback aside, Hill was still pleased to see the team chemistry holding up even in the face of adversity.
“The last few matches, we’ve really come together as a team,” Hill said. “I’ve talked about it since the beginning of the year that chemistry was going to be our key. We’re finally a team, so I’m proud of them.”
Robinson led the Lady Falcons with 11 kills, five aces and two blocks. Dortch added five kills and three blocks, while Shayla Clements and Lindsay Silvas each added four aces. Clements also had two kills for North Pulaski.
The Lady Falcons are now tied for second with Sylvan Hills. They will have the chance to take the spot outright on Tuesday when they visit the Lady Bears in Sherwood.