Saturday, October 06, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> NLR ladies beat Cabot

Leader sports editor

What started as a blowout, suddenly became close, then became a blowout again as the North Little Rock volleyball team dispatched Cabot in three games Tuesday, winning by scores of 26-24, 25-13 and 25-12. The Charging Lady Wildcats raced out to a 10-2 lead in game one, only to see that lead slowly evaporate.

Cabot never made a huge run, but slowly chipped away at its deficit. The Lady Panthers never had the lead, but Bailee Uhiren tied the game with a block that fell inbounds on North Little Rock’s side to make it 24-24.

North Little Rock coach Becky Matthews called timeout to refocus her team.

“When we got out to that big lead we thought this was going to be easy and we lost focus,” Matthews said. “We can’t afford those types of things. We have some big matches coming up against the league’s top teams, and we can’t give games away like that and continue to get away with it.”

Matthews’ squad didn’t give the game away. It won the next two points. Senior hitter Keedra Johnson threw down her 10th kill of the game to make it 25-24. Cabot got a good pass and a good set on the next serve, but Taylor Bitely’s kill hit landed just wide of the left sideline to give the home team the hard-fought game.

The rest of the match was one-sided. Game two saw very few points on serve from either team. North Little Rock was able to put a few together in spots in order to get the 12-point margin, but there was never a moment when it seemed like the Wildcats had full control of the game. Most points for both teams came on errors by the opponent.

Game three was a different matter. North Little Rock got 15 points on serve, including three aces, scored on eight kills and six blocks.

Johnson led all players in two categories. She finished with 15 kills and 12 points on serve. She also had five blocks, as did teammate Jaelyn Wayne.

Cabot’s Bitely led all players in blocks with six. Uhiren led Cabot with eight kills while Lakin Best finished with six.

North Little Rock’s Kevinisha Jarrett also turned in a solid all-around performance. She had 11 digs, nine points on serve and five kills. Kelsie Claussen finished with six kills for the Lady Wilddcats.

Despite the lop-sided victory, Matthews wasn’t entirely pleased.

“I thought Keedra played pretty well but she wasn’t at her best,” Matthews said. “We had some moments when I thought we were playing really well but we didn’t keep it up like we need to. That performance will get us beat by the top teams.”

Matthews’ fears proved true on Thursday when the Charging Lady Wildcats were soundly beaten in three games at Jonesboro.

The Lady Hurricanes crushed their visitors in the first two games, winning each one 25-12, then squeaking out a 26-24 win in game three to end the match in straight sets.

The loss, combined with Mountain Home’s 3-1 win over Marion on Thursday, dropped the Charging Lady Wildcats (17-5, 7-2) out of first place and into a tie for second with Jonesboro. Mountain Home now sits alone at the top of the league at 9-1, 17-3 overall.

Cabot got better results in its match on Thursday, beating West Memphis 3-0 at home to improve to 8-12 overall and 4-6 in the 7A/6A East.