Saturday, September 28, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears sweep rivals

Leader sportswriter

After dropping the opening game of both of its matches against rival schools North Pulaski and Jacksonville, the Sylvan Hills volleyball team rallied to beat the Lady Falcons and Red Devils 3-1 in 5A Central Conference action this week.

Sylvan Hills, 6-2 record in conference play, had to play Thursday’s 5A Central match without junior All-State hitter Brooke Rainey, who suffered a shoulder injury in a recent match against Greenbrier, and Jacksonville took advantage of her absence in game one with a come from behind 25-19 victory.

The Lady Bears rebounded to win the next game 25-20, and games three and four by scores of 25-10 and 25-9. Rainey is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks.

“They overcame a lot tonight,” said Lady Bears coach Harold Treadway. “Number one, they overcame Jacksonville. They’re a county school and we seem to bring out the best in them. I personally think they overcame some officiating, and they overcame me.

“I’m not sure at some point that I had everything under control, but they worked hard, they played hard, and did what they were supposed to do.”

Sylvan Hills got off to a good start in game one by taking a 3-0 lead, thanks to two aces by senior hitter Jordie Flippo. Jacksonville came back to tie the game at 8-8 on a kill by junior Taylor Hayden, and picked up its first lead at 11-10 on a kill by Bailea Mitchell.

The two teams traded leads until Mitchell gave Jacksonville a lead it wouldn’t relinquish from the serving line. After serving the go-ahead point to put the Lady Red Devils up 14-13, Mitchell served three more points to give the visitors a four-point advantage.

The closest Sylvan Hills got to catching Jacksonville in game one was at 19-17 on a kill by junior hitter Jessica Scott. From there, the Lady Devils outscored the Lady Bears 6-2, and took the game on an ace by Hayden.

In the second game, and also in games three and four, Scott came up big for Sylvan Hills. In game two, she totaled seven kills and two aces to lead the Lady Bears to victory. Scott had the best overall game of any participant as she was the only player for either team to pick up double-digit kills with 13. She also finished with a match-high eight aces.

“She’s a junior and she’s steady,” Treadway said of Scott. “I think she’s still learning the game and when she learns it she’s going to be really dangerous.”

The Lady Bears did a lot of damage to Jacksonville from the serving line in game three. Flippo gave the home team a strong start yet again with two aces early, and Sylvan Hills capitalized on its lead from there. Two aces by Scott later in the game gave the Lady Bears a commanding 17-6 lead, and they outscored the Lady Devils 8-4 the rest of the way to take a 2-1 match lead.

Jacksonville had a better start in the fourth and final game, but it didn’t take long for Sylvan Hills to rally. Back-to-back kills late by Flippo put the Lady Bears up 18-6. The next Sylvan Hills’ serve went into the net, but Jacksonville returned the favor on the next serve.

Scott then went to the serving line and served a whopping four-straight aces to put her team up 23-7. Jacksonville scored its final two points on a kill by Mitchell and an ace by Hayden on the following serve.

A kill by Sylvan Hills senior Ashton Williams put the Lady Bears up 24-9, and the match ended on an ace by junior Alisa Staton.

Scott was the dominant player for Sylvan Hills at the net, but Flippo, Karley Walton, DaBria Thompson and Williams each had four kills in the match. Shelby Simpkins led the Lady Bears with a match-high 12 assists, and junior libero Abi Cantrell had five digs.

For Jacksonville, sophomore Emily Lovercheck had a team-high five kills, while Mitchell finished with four. Fellow sophomore and middle blocker Terionna Stewart had a team-high five blocks, and Hayden and junior libero Savanah Hughes had six digs. Hayden also served a team-high three aces.

On Tuesday, Sylvan Hills lost the first game 25-27 to hosting North Pulaski. They came back to win the next three games by scores of 25-20, 25-9 and 25-18.

“We have not started well lately, especially the last two games,” Treadway said. “I think we have a target on our back to some extent. We’re a county school and we’ve had some success. We’ve got the two private schools with the year-round junior olympic programs in our conference. After that it’s been us and North Pulaski. So these schools that are county rivals approach Sylvan Hills thinking if they can get a win, they’ve accomplished something.”