Saturday, October 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Comets cannot maintain fast start

Leader sportswriter

A slow start didn’t stop Sylvan Hills from sweeping Mills University Studies in Thursday’s 5A Central volleyball match as the Lady Bears beat the Lady Comets by scores of 25-19, 25-11 and 25-13 at The Galaxy in Little Rock.

“We didn’t start off as strong as I’d hoped we would,” said Lady Bears coach Harold Treadway, “but about halfway through the first game through the second game, they played like they’re capable of playing.”

Junior All-State outside hitter Brooke Rainey returned to the court for her first full match after missing time due to a shoulder injury, and her presence on the court wasn’t hard to notice. In the first game alone, she recorded seven kills to help the Lady Bears come from behind to win game one by a six-point margin.

Only one other player, Jessica Scott, recorded that many kills in the entire match.

“She was released (last) Thursday,” Treadway said of Rainey. “She played the third game against McClellan (Tuesday) just to let her know she could hit, but this was her first full game back. It’s a tremendous advantage, because she plays hard and she’s a floor leader. She leads by example. She’s out there the whole time playing.

“When she was out we had some players step up and we survived, but any time you lose a floor leader like that it’s tough. I’m glad she’s back and the kids are glad she’s back.”

Sylvan Hills trailed by as much as six points in the first game of Thursday’s match, but after coming from behind to win by that margin, it carried that momentum into game two. The Lady Bears jumped out to an 11-3 lead in that game, forcing Mills to call timeout and regroup.

The Lady Comets (5-4 in 5A Central) managed to cut the deficit down to 13-9, but once the Lady Bears regained serving rights, senior Jordie Flippo served five-straight points to push Sylvan Hills’ lead to 19-9. Mills was able to stop the run on a kill by outside hitter Deja Hale, but Karley Walton got a kill on the next serve to bring the serving rights back to Sylvan Hills.

Junior libero Abi Cantrell followed Walton’s kill by serving the next four points to give the Lady Bears a commanding 24-10 lead, but Cantrell’s next serve went into the net to give Mills possession. Rainey, however, ended the game on the next serve with her signature kill from the corner of the net.

Like the previous game, Sylvan Hills started the third and final game strong and grabbed its first double-digit lead at 14-4 on a kill by senior outside hitter Ashton Williams.

The Lady Comets were able to cut the deficit down to six points on two occasions down the stretch, the last with the score at 19-13, but the Lady Bears scored the next six points to end the game.

Rainey got another kill at the corner to bring the serving rights back to the visitors, and from there, senior setter Shelby Simpkins served the last five points to end the game and the match. Rainey got the final kill to the end the match, also from the corner.

“I thought our front row played tremendous tonight,” Treadway said, “Aleah Williams, Karley Walton, Brooke, Jordie Flippo and Ashton Williams. The whole team did well, but our front row really did a good job tonight.”

Rainey’s 19 kills easily led all players. Scott added six blocks to go with her seven kills. Williams had four kills, while Flippo, Walton and Williams recorded three each. Junior setter Alisa Staton led all players with 13 assists. Simpkins had 12 assists. Cantrell led all players with six digs from the backcourt, while junior Jamia Willis had five digs.

Sylvan Hills is now tied for second place in the 5A Central Conference with a 7-2 record, and will continue conference play Tuesday at home against Helena-West Helena Central.