Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Devils shuffle for Vilonia

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills volleyball teams took part in the Eagle Invitational Tournament at Vilonia on Saturday. The two 5A-Central teams were put in the same three-team pool along with Greenbrier. The Lady Panthers won the pool, sweeping both sets against the two Central teams. Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills split their two sets, and Jacksonville got the two-seed based on winning its game by a larger margin than Sylvan Hills won its game.

Jacksonville then lost to Lonoke in bracket play while Sylvan Hills fell to Conway-St. Joseph.

Though the two Central teams finished the tournament with the same record, the reactions from the respective coaches were vastly different.

The Lady Red Devils were without a few players who were taking the ACT, and first-year JHS head coach Whitney Abdullah was pleased with her team’s effort.

“With the missing girls, it was definitely reassuring that the younger players were able to step in and compete like they did,” said Abdullah. “We moved some starters around into different positions and plugged the younger ones into those spots, and the girls played hard. It was good to see them move out of their normal positions and still play pretty well. That’s what we use these tournaments for, to try different things and hopefully develop some depth.”

Jacksonville had Lonoke down by several points midway through game two before the young Lady Jackrabbits came back for the 2-0 win.

Longtime Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway wasn’t as pleased.

“We didn’t do as well as I thought we would,” said Treadway. “We got a chance to play three games and that’s why we go up there, but I wasn’t happy with the outcomes.”

Sylvan Hills also had a lead in game one against St. Joseph, but lost that set 25-23. Game two wasn’t close.

“St. Joe is a good team, but they don’t do anything spectacular,” Treadway said. “The first game was a good one. Game two, we just kind of went through the motions. We let them control the game and didn’t do what we’re able to do.

“I will say that Jacksonville is a much-improved team, but right now I’m not too worried about anyone but us. And that’s about it. Until we start playing better, I can’t add a whole lot. The potential is there, it’s a matter of whether or not we do it.”