Monday, October 16, 2006

SPORTS >>SH ladies lock up state bid, top Devils

Leader sportswriter

For the second time this year, the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears defeated Jacksonville in straight games, 25-14, 25-10 and 25-18. The Lady Bears had already swept the Lady Red Devils in their first 6A-East Conference two weeks back in Jack-sonville, and backed that win up with Tuesday’s sweep at the Sherwood Sports Complex.

Sylvan Hills coach Lara Allred stated that just as in the first game between the two schools, her squad’s improvements on court errors made the biggest difference in the match. “We had been pretty high on our team errors,” Allred said. “ But we cut them in half for the Jacksonville match. It seems like we played our best matches both times against Jacksonville, I guess because we think of them as somewhat of a rival with us just down the road from them.”

The Lady Bears outscored the Lady Devils in the three games with a total of 28 team kills. Senior hitter Meagan Gwatney led the team in kills with 13, followed by Courtney Luth with six kills. Sylvan Hills offense was solid throughout the entire contest, although Allred said that blocking was an issue for the team at times.

The Lady Bears traveled to Jonesboro two days later to attempt two conference wins a row, but lost to the Lady Hurricane in four games Thursday night at Jonesboro. Sylvan Hills gave up the first two games in routs, 8-25 and 9-25 to the Lady Hurricane, but claimed the third game with a 25-19 comeback. A 13-25 loss in the fourth game gave the match to Jonesboro, and ended Sylvan Hills’ chances of a No. 2 ranking in the 6A-East Conference.

The win improved Sylvan Hills’ overall record to 6-9 and 3-4 in the 6A-East Conference. Although it was recently announced that all eight East teams would make it in to the upcoming state volleyball tournament, the Lady Bears would have made it in the old fashioned way, with a top-four seed in the final conference standings. Unbeaten Marion has clinched the 6A-East crown, but No. 2 through No. 4 is still wide open with only one week of regular season matches remaining.

Jonesboro has the best shot of wrapping up the No. 2 seed, but still has to face the tough Lady Patriots one more time before their season is done. Mountain Home and Sylvan Hills are still undecided for who will end up third, but the Lady Bombers have winless Jacksonville remaining as one of their must-win games.

The Jonesboro match completed the conference schedule for Sylvan Hills this year. The Lady Bears will face Lonoke at home Monday in a non-conference match before finishing out their schedule with Greenbrier and North Little Rock.