Saturday, October 11, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills delivers second win over NP

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills volleyball team looked as if it was on its way to a 5A-Central sweep at North Pulaski on Thursday, and even though the Lady Falcons rallied at the end of games three and four, the Lady Bears still won the conference match 3-1.

Sylvan Hills won Thursday’s 5A-Central match by scores of 25-19, 25-10, 24-26 and 25-21. The Lady Bears got off to a tremendous start in the first two games. They didn’t start as strong in game three, but built a five-point cushion late till North Pulaski went on an unlikely rally to win the third set.

The Lady Bears got off to another solid start in the fourth game, and even though the Lady Falcons rallied again toward the end of the fourth set, the visitors were able to hold off the hosts to claim their eighth match win in conference play this season.

Some disputed calls led to some lengthy delays in the third game, and Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway thinks that contributed to his team’s late collapse. The Lady Bears led that game 23-18, and ended up losing 26-24.

“There were some delays,” said Treadway. “I don’t know what happened. It took us out of our rhythm and we lost focus. We shouldn’t, but we did. They’re (North Pulaski) a good team.

“In the first game, we started as well probably as we have in the last two or three weeks. We really started well. The second game was good, and then we finished up strong.”

The Lady Bears scored the first six points of the match to lead game one 6-0. They pushed that lead to nine on an ace serve by senior hitter Karley Walton, which gave Sylvan Hills a 12-3 lead.

Sylvan Hills led by as much as 22-15 late in that game, but North Pulaski scored the next four points, the last of which was an ace by Breezy Russell, to cut its deficit to 22-19.

Senior middle blocker Jessica Scott stopped the NP run with a kill on the next volley, which gave the Lady Bears serving rights, and junior setter Taylor Yeoman served the final two points of the first game to give the Lady Bears the win.

In the second game, Sylvan Hills jumped out to a 7-1 lead before North Pulaski scored its second point of the game, which came on a tip by Neiagha Thomas.

However, the Lady Bears answered with the next point scored, giving them serving rights, and Yeoman served seven-straight points to give Sylvan Hills a commanding 15-2 lead.

Sylvan Hills led by as much as 23-6 in the second game till NP went on a 4-1 run to get to double digits on the scoreboard. It was too little too late, though, and Sylvan Hills ended the second game in its favor on a corner kill by Walton, which was set up by teammate and fellow senior Alisa Staton.

The Lady Bears didn’t get off to as great a start in the third game, but still led 4-1. However, the Lady Falcons battled back and took their first lead at 10-9 on an ace serve by Megan Lewis.

North Pulaski led again at 11-10 before Sylvan Hills regained the lead and pushed it to 23-18 – the last two points being ace serves by senior standout hitter Brooke Rainey.

The Lady Falcons regained serving rights on the next volley, and Lewis served NP’s 20th point, cutting the Lady Bear lead to 23-20. From there, Lady Falcon middle blocker Makiyah Brown got three-straight kills to knot up the score at 23-23.

The two sides exchanged points before the Lady Falcons regained serving rights at 25-24, and Brown served the final point to force a fourth game. In that game, Sylvan Hills jumped out to another 7-1 cushion before NP put its second point on the board.

Sylvan Hills led by as much as 12-4, but North Pulaski ground its way back into the mix, and eventually got to within 17-15 of the Lady Bear lead. The Lady Falcons tied it up at 18-18 on a kill by Kiarra Evans, but Rainey answered with a kill of her own on the next volley to put the Lady Bears back up 19-18.

The Lady Bears stayed ahead on the scoreboard the rest of the way, but the win didn’t come easy. The Lady Falcons’ final point of the night made it 22-21 Sylvan Hills, but Walton got another kill on the next volley, and Staton served the final two points of the night to give the Lady Bears the match win and regular-season sweep of North Pulaski.

Rainey had yet another stellar match. She led all players with 20 kills. She also had five aces and three blocks. Walton had nine kills and six aces. Aleah Williams and Yeoman had seven kills each. Scott had six kills. Staton had a match-high 15 assists, while Yeoman added nine assists.

Raigen Thomas led NP with nine kills. Evans had eight kills. Brown finished the night with six kills, and teammate Payton Mullen had four kills. Brown had the most complete stat sheet for the Lady Falcons, adding six blocks and eight assists – both of which were team highs.

Sylvan Hills is now 8-2 in 5A-Central play, and is currently sitting in third place in the conference behind Pulaski Academy and Beebe, who each have one loss in league play. North Pulaski is currently fourth in the conference standings.

The Lady Bears will look to win their ninth conference game Tuesday against McClellan at home, while North Pulaski will play host to Jacksonville on Tuesday in a matchup that will likely decide the fourth and final spot in the state tournament. North Pulaski beat Jacksonville in an exciting five-game match last month at JHS. Both matches are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.