Tuesday, September 01, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot plays best match at Spikefest

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers and the Beebe Lady Badgers played well enough in pool play of Saturday’s Spikefest Volleyball Classic to advance to the Gold level bracket, but both lost their first-round matches in the highest of the four eight-team tournaments.

The Lady Panthers played their pool at the Little Rock Christian auxiliary gym with Springdale and KIPP Delta. Little Rock McClellan was supposed to be in the pool but failed to show up. That meant each team got a forfeit win, and the other games were changed to three sets instead of the pre-established two, primarily to make up for the loss of games for the other three members of the pool.

Cabot opened against 7A-West Springdale and lost 2-1 to the Lady Bulldogs. Springdale won a competitive opening game 25-19 before Cabot rallied from a 19-10 deficit to win game two 25-22.

Things went poorly from that point for Cabot, as Springdale raced out to a 10-1 lead en route to an easy 25-12 deciding set.

Cabot beat Class 2A KIPP Delta, a charter school in Helena-West Helena, in three uncompetitive games. But the win wasn’t all good news. Junior outside hitter Maddie Brown tore her shoulder during the match and will likely be out until at least the middle of next week.

Cabot drew Conway, winner of its pool, in the opening round of the gold bracket, and lost 25-22 and 25-23.

“We didn’t beat Conway, but I thought that was the best volleyball we’ve played so far this year,” said Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk. “Considering we didn’t have one of our returning starters, I was pretty pleased with how we finished. We battled with them the whole way.”

The second-year Cabot coach was trying to win, but also using the tournament to get an idea about the best lineups to use for conference play, which began this week.

“We were trying to get some stats compiled on everyone and giving everyone plenty of time to see who was going to be the most consistent while they’re out there,” Chanthaphasouk said. “We got to play six games in pool play and were able to go over some things. We stuck with a lineup most of the way against Conway and I think we found a group that did pretty well. We established our starting lineup today (Monday) and that’s what we’ll go with. Hopefully everyone will accept their roles and we’ll continue to get better as a team and individually.”

The Lady Badgers, playing in LRCA’s main gym, lost their first match to 7A North Little Rock 2-0. Beebe led until late in game one before falling 25-22. The Charging Lady Wildcats won game two a bit more easily 25-19. Beebe then hammered 5A-South Magnolia 25-16 and 25-8, then beat 5A-West Greenbrier in straight sets.

That advanced Beebe to face pool winner Bryant. Beebe won game one 25-19, but lost game two 25-22 and the deciding game three 25-19 to end its day.

Bryant went on to the semifinals, where it lost to the Little Rock Homeschool Flames. The other semifinal saw Valley View roll past Little Rock Christian Academy. The Lady Blazers then went on to beat the Homeschool team 2-0 to earn their second-consecutive Spikefest championship.