Saturday, October 20, 2007

SPORTS >>Bombers get hot, beat JHS volleyball

IN SHORT: The Lady Devils lost their last conference match to a streaking Mountain Home team Tuesday night at Jan Crow Stadium. After starting 0-8, MHHS finished the conference regular season with wins over West Memphis and Jacksonville.

Leader sportswriter

What was almost the most amazing comeback of the year would be all for naught at the Devils’ Den on Tuesday, as the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils came back from an 0-2 deficit against Mountain Home to tie the match at 2-2, only to fall to the Lady Bombers in the final frame 10-15.

Errors hampered the Lady Devils in the first two games, but solid games by seniors Brittany Harrison and Vanessa Brown in games three and four put Jacksonville back in the hunt. Soph-omore setter Bailee Herlacher had several key assists in the two frames to help the Lady Red Devils’ efforts, but the Lady Bombers would not let the match slip away from them in the very late going.

The Jacksonville crowd was stunned in game one, when the Lady Bombers took a 25-15 win over the Lady Devils with a number of kills from junior Katie Thomas.

Tyra Terry generated most of Jacksonville’s offense in the first game, with some assistance from Harrison. It would not be nearly enough, as Mountain Home won by one of the biggest margins allowed by Jacksonville all season.

The second game would be much closer, but the Lady Bombers would still come out on top. Harrison’s game got stronger at the net for game two, but Terry began to lose effectiveness. She would share floor time with sophomore Allison Cox from game three on. Cox, who has seen limited varsity time this season, did a solid job from the left side save for some small rookie mistakes.

Game two would end up as a loss for Jacksonville, but it would not be without its spectacular moments for the Lady Devils. The Lady Bombers led 21-20, but the first varsity kill for sophomore Tiara Clark tied the game at 21 all, and lit up the Jacksonville crowd.

Brown was very quiet during the first two games, but began to take over at the net during game three. Herlacher’s solid assists helped Brown to eight kills over the next two games, with sophomore Jessica Lanier inheriting the net in Brown’s absence for four kills and a block in games three and four.

The only part of Jacksonville’s game that did not pick up in the second half of the game was serving.

A number of bad serves for the Lady Devils kept the Lady Bombers in games three and four, but solid defense by Raven Pickett and senior Amber Pawloski on the back row prevented a full comeback.

Jacksonville matched Moun-tain Home point-for-point in the final game until the score reached 9-9, then fatigue set in for the Lady Red Devils. Mountain Home took six of the final seven points, with only a serve into the net by Mountain Home serving as the final Jacksonville point in the match.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Jack-sonville coach Melissa Reeves said. “I don’t think we were focused like we should have been. I think there was more focus on it being senior night than the actual match itself. We were silly and goosey and not focused on the things we should have been focused on.”

Reeves was also complimentary on the drastic improvements by the Lady Bombers after two easy wins by Jacksonville earlier in the season.

“They have definitely improved since the Harrison tournament,” Reeves said. “They have come together; I don’t think last place in the conference is really indicative of where they are at as a team.”

The loss puts Jacksonville’s record at 13-11 overall and 3-7 in the 6A-East Conference. The Lady Devils will be the No. 4 seed out of the East Conference, and will take on Little Rock Parkview in the first round of the 6A state tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 30.