Friday, August 26, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot wins opener

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School volleyball team began the regular season at home Tuesday against Class 6A Benton, and the host Lady Panthers finished the nonconference match strong, beating the visiting Lady Panthers 3-1.

Cabot won the match by scores of 25-16, 25-17, 14-25 and 25-14. It took a couple of serves before the hosts settled into the first game. Benton’s Maggie Carson served a pair of aces to start the match, but Cabot scored the next three points to take its first lead, the third point coming on a Maddie Brown kill.

The host Lady Panthers led by as much as 18-10 in game one, but Benton answered with four-straight points to cut it to 18-14. Another Brown kill, assisted by fellow senior teammate Regan Campbell, broke serve and made it 19-14, and Benton didn’t threaten the rest of the game.

Game one ended on a Kaelee Simmons serve that Benton failed to return. In game two, Cabot took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish with the score 4-3. The hosts pushed their lead to 16-7 with Campbell serving, and Cabot took a double-digit lead with the score 22-12.

Benton answered with five consecutive points to make it 22-17, but Cabot broke serve after Benton put a kill attempt into the net. Brown then went to the serving line, and served the next two points to end game two and give the hosts a 2-0 match lead.

Game three was all Benton. The visiting Lady Panthers took their first lead of the third game at 3-2, and never relinquished that lead. Nothing went Cabot’s way in that one, and Benton took a double-digit lead at 23-13.

The 6A Lady Panthers scored the next point to push their lead to 11. Cabot scored its final point of game three on the next volley. That final point gave the hosts serving rights, but the next serve was too deep and landed out of bounds, giving Benton the win.

“They just kind of forgot to have fun and took themselves too seriously,” said Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk about game three. “From past experience, when they do that, they’re not as focused. They’re afraid to do what they do best, which is be aggressive and hit and dig the ball.

“After the third game, I was like, ‘You know what? I think we’re forgetting to have fun, because y’all do so well when you play together, you battle together and you’re having fun out there.’ So they came back and they had fun and you saw the difference.”

The difference between the third and fourth game was very noticeable from the start. Cabot scored the first four points of game four, which were served by Leah Gerald.

Benton answered with three-straight kills by Cassidy Brady, but another Brown kill with Campbell getting the assist broke serve, and the hosts separated themselves from there.

Cabot doubled Benton’s point total at 14-7, with that 14th point coming on a Campbell serve. Gerald served the team to its first double-digit lead of game four at 18-8. The closest Benton got to Cabot’s lead the rest of the way was six points, and Hannah Freeman served the final five points to end the game and match in Cabot’s favor.

Brown led all players with 19 kills. Freeman had a match-high 15 assists. Campbell had 14 assists. Simmons was all over the backcourt with a match-high 12 digs. Gerald had eight digs and Freeman five, and Brown, Freeman and Gerald served up two aces apiece.