Monday, October 28, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears get sweep at JHS

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills volleyball team had the No. 3 seed in the class 5A state tournament already locked up when it played at Jacksonville on Tuesday in the 5A-Central Conference finale. The Lady Red Devils didn’t qualify for the playoffs, but they gave the Lady Bears all it could handle for the first game and a half. But in the end, the more powerful, taller and more athletic visitors slowly pulled away, winning in three games by scores of 25-23, 25-16 and 25-9.

Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway applauded Jack-sonville’s effort in the early going, but thought his team’s comeback win in game one was the difference in its ability to pull away in game two and dominate game three.

“Jacksonville came out and gave us a good shot in game one,” said Treadway. “Their back row players especially seem to have improved quite a bit. I think we could have been a little bit more focused. We had some miss-hits that helped them a little, but they were doing a much better job of digging out our hitters. Once we came back and won it, I think that maybe broke their spirits a little bit.”

Sylvan Hills (15-13, 10-4) took serve to start the match and junior setter Alisa Staton served up five-straight points, including two aces, before Jacksonville broke.

Lady Devil junior Bailea Mitchell two-upped Staton, serving seven in a row for an 8-5 Jacksonville lead.

The two teams played back-and-forth until Sylvan Hills’ junior libero Abi Cantrell served up six points with three aces to push a 17-16 lead to 23-16. Jacksonville (5-12, 4-10) still had a rally left.

Junior Taylor Hayden served up six-straight points with Mitchell, Ashli Evans and Terionna Stewart each getting kills during the rally. Sylvan Hills finally broke serve, but Jacksonville answered right back.

Serving down 24-23, Stewart was called for a net violation while going for a block for an anti-climactic ending to the exciting opening game.

Game two was close most of the way as well. Sylvan Hills junior Brooke Rainey took serve with her team leading 17-15 and served six in a row with two aces. Jacksonville broke serve after a timeout, but didn’t score again.

Game three was all Sylvan Hills. Rainey started the rout with seven-straight points to open play. Cantrell and sophomore Shelby Simpkins also had long service games as the Lady Devils committed several unforced errors.

Sylvan Hills got another good performance by each of its top two hitters in Rainey and Jordie Flippo, but Treadway singled out Cantrell and Staton for their performances.

“Everybody notices when those hitters go up and get something big,” Treadway said. “I really feel like Alisa and Abi played great tonight. Abi’s passing has gotten better and better. She’s really made a big difference. And our setters, Alisa especially but Shelby played well too, were making good sets even when there wasn’t much of a pass. I was really pleased tonight.”

Rainey led all players in points on serve and kills, with 13 and nine respectively. Cantrell had 12 points, five digs and two assists. Rainey and Cantrell each had four aces.

Staton finished with seven points and 10 assists while Simpkins had seven of each.

Mitchell led Jacksonville with nine points and four kills. Junior libero Jessica Brown had 10 digs while Palmer had five. Stewart gave Sylvan Hills major trouble when she got her serve over the net. She finished with four points – all four were aces.

Sylvan Hills closed the regular season with a win over Conway St. Joseph’s on Thursday, and will face Magnolia, the No. 2 seed from the 5A South, in the first round of the state tournament at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Alma.