Saturday, October 23, 2010

SPORTS>>Cabot volleyball sneaks its way in

Leader sportswriter 

The jumbling of 6A and 7A conferences played to Cabot’s benefit once the points were tabulated.

In a new wrinkle this year, some of the large schools played in hybrid, 7A/6A conferences and earned points toward postseason play before breaking into their respective classifications for the volleyball state tournaments.

The Lady Panthers finished 7A-Central play with a 3-11 record, and were seventh among their opponents. But with Van Buren and Russellville earning seeds in the 6A state tournament, the Lady Panthers edged out Little Rock Hall by three points for the final seed in the 7A state bracket.

“The young ones improved throughout the year, but I think the seniors did a good job of holding everything together,” Lady Panthers coach Terry Williams said. “They came through when they needed to and did what needed to be done.”

The Lady Panthers earned the No. 6 seed from the 7A-Central. They will take on West No. 3 seed Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the Bentonville High School campus.

The Lady Rebels finished 9-5 in the 7A-West and beat out Springdale Har-Ber for the third-seed tiebreaker.

“I haven’t seen them this year, but I know their tradition is always strong,” Williams said of Southside. “In the tournament, they always bring their best games, year in and year out.”

The Lady Panthers finished the final stretch of their league schedule with a victory over Little Rock Central, followed by losses to Mount St. Mary and 6A Van Buren.

Cabot lost its first four matches in the 7A-Central before posting its first victory against Little Rock Central. The winless Lady Tigers were the only team Cabot swept, and the Lady Panthers also defeated North Little Rock in the first week of October to accumulate just enough conference points to qualify for postseason play.

Seniors Jenny Evans and Ashley Daniels led the team with stellar performances that night, and Williams said their classmate Stevie Brock has improved throughout the season after limited playing time last year.

“Last year, we wouldn’t have made it,” Williams said. “If the brackets and records would have been the same, we wouldn’t have been in.”

Conway went unbeaten through regular-season, conference play to earn the No. 1 seed out of the 7A-Central and a first-round bye at the state tournament.

The Lady Wampus Cats will take on the winner between Springdale Har-Ber and West Memphis, which earned the Central No. 4 seed through regular-season play in the 6A-East Conference.

Mount St. Mary went 10-4 through the conference season to earn the Central No. 2 seed. The Belles will also sit out the first round with a bye and will play the winner between Cabot and Southside.

Bryant, the No. 3 seed from the 7A-Central, will play West No. 6 seed Rogers Heritage Tuesday. Central No. 4 seed North Little Rock will face West No. 5 seed Fort Smith Northside.