Saturday, September 01, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> JHS girls slip past Mills, fall to LRCA

Leader sportswriter

It was a week of mixed results for the Jacksonville volleyball team.

The Lady Red Devils started the week with a 3-1 victory over Mills University Studies to begin 5A Central Conference play Tuesday, but Thursday’s matchup against a loaded Little Rock Christian team did not go as well. The Lady Warriors took the match in straight games.

Sophomore Bailea Mitchell had a standout performance against Mills, backing seniors Alunte Petties, Shyrel McKinney, Coyja Hood and Katie Lawrence. The Lady Comets used a strong service game to take the opening frame 22-25 before Jacksonville rallied back to sweep the next three games 25-13, 25-21 and 25-19.

“They settled in and found their rhythm,” Lady Red Devils coach Kendra Sauheaver said. “They started playing like I know they can play. They were really excited to get the conference season started on a good note.”

The Lady Warriors feature several year-round players who participate in Junior-Olympic volleyball, which created a mismatch for Jacksonville.

“A lot of them play J.O., and yeah, it made a big difference,” Sauheaver said. “But, when several of their players come up and compliment our kids, it really says a lot.”

The Lady Red Devils were further hampered by having to play without Hood, one of the team’s leading hitters. There were bright spots for Jacksonville, however, as sophomores Taylor Hayden and Asheley Adams got their first taste of varsity court time against one of the state’s most successful programs.

The Lady Warriors took runaway victories in the first two frames before the Lady Red Devils gained ground in the final game which ended in favor of Little Rock Christian 25-13.

The Lady Red Devils are 1-2 overall and 1-1 in 5A Central Conference play, and have shown fast improvement in the young season. Sauheaver continues to work with the team to improve its serve-receive game.

“The serve-receive is what got us,” Sauheaver said of the struggles against Little Rock Christian. “We’ve been working on it. It’s what got us in the first game against Mills, and it happened again against Christian, we just couldn’t get it back.”

The Lady Red Devils return to 5A Central conference play on Thursday with a home match against crosstown rival North Pulaski at the Devils Den with junior-varsity play opening at 5 p.m. followed by the varsity matchup.