Saturday, September 20, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panther girls get historic victory

By RAY BENTONLeader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers pulled off their biggest win of the year, and maybe in at least a decade Tuesday when it beat Mountain Home in straight sets Tuesday at Panther Arena – marking the first time Cabot has beaten the Lady Bombers in a long time.

“My assistant coach is telling me she thinks this is the first time Cabot has ever beaten Mountain Home,” said first-year Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk. “We worked very hard this week preparing for that match and they went out and executed what we worked on.”

After what Chanthaphasouk called a bad all-around performance at North Little Rock a week earlier, Cabot almost pulled off an even bigger upset last Thursday, losing in five sets to powerhouse Marion. But the head Panther hesitates to call that match, or the quick win over Mountain Home a corner-turning match.

“In volleyball no match is a corner-turning match,” Chanthaphasouk said. “You never know how you’re going to play from one match to the next, especially with a team as young as this one. We just need to keep working on improving in all the areas we need to improve, and keep trying to carry that preparation onto the court like we did tonight.”

While Cabot won in straight sets, all three sets were extremely close. Scores were 25-23 twice and 25-21. A big focus in preparation for the match was getting hands and arms in the way of the Lady Bombers’ big hitter, senior Katie Dunn.

“We just wanted to get a hand on the ball so she would know we were there,” Chanthaphasouk said of Dunn. “It doesn’t matter if you block everything, just get a hand on it and make her start thinking about it. I thought Kristen Walker did a great job of that. Haley (Callison) did very well – all our front row players.”

Walker also had three big kills early in game two that helped the Lady Panthers climb back into the game after a fast start by the Lady Bombers.

“She had one of her best matches tonight,” Chanthaphasouk said about Walker. “It’s all about confidence for her. She’s just a junior and didn’t have much varsity experience. She was a little unsure of herself early on, but she’s really improving.”

Callison, a senior, is also getting back into top form after injuries kept her sidelined and slowed for most of the first few games. She finished off game two with a big kill after the Lady Bombers had rallied to within 24-23.

It wasn’t all victories for Cabot this week, however. The Lady Panthers went on the road Thursday to face juggernaut Jonesboro, and lost in four games.

The week’s matches leaves Cabot 3-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Mountain Home beat Little Rock Central in four on Thursday, and is now 9-3 and 3-2.