Saturday, September 16, 2006

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies shine in 7A win

IN SHORT: The Lady Panthers defeated Bryant in straight sets on Thursday night for their first conference win of the season.

Leader sports writer

Cabot got its first conference win of the season in dominating fashion over Bryant Thursday evening at the Panther gymnasium. The Lady Panthers (5-3, 1-2) hammered the Lady Hornets (0-4, 0-1) in straight sets, 25-9, 25-15 and 25-10, allowing only 13 total team kills from Bryant in the brief contest.

Lady Panthers junior Katie Mantione nearly captured as many stats as the entire Bryant squad single-handedly. The Cabot outside hitter finished the match with 10 kills on 21 attempts, and had four blocks.

“We’ve been working on our hitting game,” Cabot coach Terry Williams said. “I think it was a lot better. Our serving has been good; we’ve been in the 90’s. Our receiving has been high 80’s. That stayed pretty solid, but we’re still working on our hitting game. We were more aggressive with some solid hits tonight.”

Williams said that Mantione’s recent domination at the front has not been a sudden discovery of talent, but rather a new-found confidence in a talent that has been there all along.

“She’s starting to get more comfortable up there,” Williams said. “She’s starting to jump and get her timing down, and she’s been working on some things to make her a better hitter.”

The conference mis-match was evident from the early moments of the match. A block from Morgan Hart gave Bryant the first game, but after that, it was all Lady Panthers. A Bryant error on the next game put Lady Panthers senior Codi Smith behind the service line, where she stayed for the next 12 games, as Cabot rushed out to a 13-1 lead. Hart finally stopped the bleeding for Bryant with a mis-direction kill to earn the serve back.

Bryant managed a pair of kills to close the score to 18-7 in the middle of the opening set, but the Lady Panthers closed the frame out strong to win 25-9.

Bryant’s only sign of competitiveness came in the opening moments of the second set. Kills from Tiffany Ward and Tyler Cox put the Lady Hornets up 4-1. Mantione also sat out a good part of the second set after falling on a dig attempt in the early going. Bryant was able to stay within striking distance in Mantione’s absence.

Kelli Lowry took up the slack for Cabot in the second set with two of her total four kills and a block. Lowry’s mis-direction kill put Cabot up 10-7, but Bryant bounced back moments later to take over the lead once again, 13-12.

Mantione returned to the floor recovered at that point, and the Lady Panthers rushed back out to a commanding lead.

It wasn’t just Man-tione that sparked the Cabot rally. Kim Carter, Smith and sophomore Morgan Young all rec-orded kills in the late going, boosting the Lady Panthers to a 25-15 second set win, allowing only two more points from Bryant in the set.

Cox tried to keep Bryant in the match in the final set, but couldn’t prevail in what seemed to be a six-on-one match.

Three kills and three blocks from Cox were not near enough for the Lady Hornets in the final frame, as the Lady Panthers took eight team kills and two blocks, along with service aces from Lowry and junior Biance Reando to claim the set 25-10.

Carter finished the match with perfect two’s — two kills, two blocks and two aces. Lowry had four kills along with a block and an ace. Young had three kills and three blocks for the Lady Panthers.

For Bryant, Cox finished with six kills and three blocks.

Cabot will be at Russellville today to play in the annual Lady Cyclone Invitational tournament.