Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SPORTS >> Cabot ladies beat Lake Hamilton

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers got a long-awaited win Saturday at the Conway Midseason Invitational tournament. The Cabot ladies opened pool play with a 2-0 win over Lake Hamilton by scores of 25-17 and 25-21.

In their other pool games, the Lady Panthers split two sets with Springdale high, winning game one 25-14, then losing game two 23-25.

In the final round of pool play, class 4A powerhouse Valley View beat Cabot 25-14 and 25-18.

The Lady Panthers lost a coin toss with Russellville to see which team would advance to the gold bracket of tournament play. The coin toss made Cabot the top seed in the sliver bracket, where it played its second match in three days against North Little Rock. The Charging Lady Wildcats won again 25-18 and 25-21, but it was much closer than the conference match the two teams played two days earlier.

Cabot coach Deanna Campbell said there was a logical explanation for the better performances in Saturday’s tournament.

“It was the first time in six matches we had the same lineup on the court for two matches in a row,” Campbell said. “We’ve had so many injuries and sicknesses, we just haven’t been able to keep a consistent lineup on the floor.”

It was strong service games that led Cabot to wins in its first three sets of the tournament.

Against Lake Hamilton, sophomore Bailee Uhiren scored eight points on serve in each of the two games. Her classmate Lakin Best also got eight points on serve in game one, and five more in game two.

“That’s 16 of our 25 points right there from two players,” Campbell said. “Both of them were serving very strong for us. It was encouraging to see.”

Taylor Bitely, also a sophomore, joined the effort, scoring five points on serve in game two against the Lady Wolves.

Cabot has lost two players for the rest of the season, including starting junior setter Brylee Staten.

Senior Kori Maloy has stepped in to fill the role of setter, and showed significant improvement in the Conway tournament.

“It’s been tough because Brylee was our most consistent player and also our most experienced,” Campbell said. “Kori has worked hard and learned a lot of things about playing the position, and you could see some of those things she learned taking place on the court. It’s just been about adjustments for us all season with so many new players and so many players missing matches.”

Campbell hopes playing eight games over the weekend with the same lineup will pay dividends as the end of conference play approaches with Cabot still searching for its first win.

“I think we’re definitely improving,” Campbell said. “I knew it was going to be like this but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch happen. These young players are very talented but they are just sophomores and they haven’t even been through a real offseason yet. I’m very excited about next season because I think we’re going to see a totally different team.”