Friday, August 24, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers fall to Pioneers

Leader sportswriter

The Lady Panthers volleyball team split the first two games of Thursday night’s match with Batesville, but after the Lady Pioneers took game three, they dominated the fourth game to win the best-of-five match 25-19, 21-25, 25-18 and 25-9 at Panther Arena.

In the first game, Batesville (2-0) scored the first point, but Cabot (0-3) scored the next four and held a close lead until the Lady Pioneers slowly crept back to tie the score at 14.

Batesville scored the next point, but Cabot scored again to knot it up at 15. The Lady Pioneers retook the lead, and eventually pulled away from the Lady Panthers to take the first game 25-19.

In the second game was when the Lady Panthers shined. Cabot earned the 25-21 win, but it didn’t come easy. The Lady Panthers never trailed after the first point, but never led by more than five. With Cabot leading 11-6, it appeared the Lady Panthers were well on their way to a win.

Batesville wouldn’t go away. The visiting Pioneers battled back and eventually tied the score at 16. Cabot scored the next three points, forcing the Lady Pioneers to call timeout. After the timeout, Batesville scored the next three to tie the score at 19, forcing Cabot coach DeAnna Campbell to call timeout. After the timeout, the Lady Panthers scored the next four points with senior setter Brylee Staten serving.

Both teams then scored two more points, with the final margin being set on a kill from junior Kaitlyn Pitman, which gave the Lady Panthers the four-point win. Timely sets, blocks and kills resulted in the Lady Panthers getting the win in game two of Thursday’s match. Cabot had eight blocks alone in the second game, and six kills from five different players.

“Our hitting this year compared to last year is a ton better,” Campbell said. “We’re getting a lot smarter, we’re seeing more. We’re just trying to keep our focus on being positive, pushing momentum and pushing momentum, because eventually I feel like some time this year we’ll get over the hump.”

Cabot led until the eight-point mark of the third game. After Batesville took a 9-8 lead, the Lady Pioneers never relinquished it. Cabot was able to keep the score close and cut Batesville’s lead to 21-17 down the stretch. However, the Lady Pioneers outscored the Lady Panthers 4-1 in the end to take game three.

With the momentum on their side, the Lady Pioneers coasted in the fourth and final game. Both teams went back and forth scoring-wise to start, but after Batesville held an 8-5 lead, the Lady Pioneers outscored the Lady Panthers 17-4. Morgan Huff served the final point to give Batesville the match-win.

Even though the Lady Panthers weren’t able to get the win, Campbell saw a lot of good things from some of her players – particularly in the junior class.

“Lakin Best played well, and Taylor Bitely was blocking really well,” Campbell said of her juniors. “Bailee Uhiren has a lot going on with the ball. She has to hit and she has to set. She’s very, very busy and she keeps focus, and she has a touch with the ball.

“We’ve really been working with the setters on making something out of nothing. Our passing looked a lot better tonight than it’s ever looked. We still are getting some shank passes, but the difference is our setters have been waking up and turning the shank passes into something that’s hittable.”

Best had a match-high 12 kills and seven blocks for Cabot. Uhiren had six kills and Bitely had four kills and two aces to go along with her six blocks. Cabot’s next match will be Tuesday at Morrilton.