Saturday, September 17, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears shock Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills volleyball team trailed Jacksonville by a game in the 5A/6A District 4 standings when they met Tuesday in Jacksonville, but it didn’t look like it. The Lady Bears dominated the action and took advantage of a sometimes-disorganized Jacksonville squad to earn a 3-0 victory. Scores in the match were 25-17, 25-18 and 25-16.

Sylvan Hills’ service game did most of the damage. Each set featured long service rallies by different Lady Bears that Jacksonville seemed unable to adjust to.

Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway said he thought Tuesday’s match was probably the best one his team has played all season.

“We’ve had some good ones against some teams that weren’t very good, but as far as playing this well against a quality team, I’d have to say this was probably our best match of the year, said Treadway. “Jacksonville worried me. They really did. She (first-year coach Savannah Jacoby) has these girls working hard. She’s instilled some enthusiasm into this program and they’ve gotten better. So I was worried coming in because I didn’t feel like we had played up to our potential. But tonight was nice. If you’d told me we would win three straight sets that easily, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Jacoby was also a little surprised at how well Sylvan Hills played, but was mostly disappointed in her own team.

“They did not look like the team I saw on film,” Jacoby said about Sylvan Hills. “They were just all around better than I was expecting. That’s still no excuse for how we played tonight. We didn’t do anything that we work on. We didn’t communicate. We didn’t move well. They had way too many long service rallies where we just didn’t adjust to anything; way too many aces. That’s just a lack of focus.”

Games one and two saw Sylvan Hills jump out to quick leads from which Jacksonville never overcame.

In the opening set, Sylvan Hills broke the opening serve, and Lydia Young served six-straight points to start the match before the Lady Titans scored. Sylvan Hills immediately broke back, and Jacksonville was never closer than six points the rest of the set.

In game two, Neiagha Thomas opened things up for Sylvan Hills with another six in a row, and four of the six points were aces.

The lead grew to as much as 17-8 before Jacksonville’s Taylor Toombs answered with five-straight points and three aces to pull the home team to within four.

A few points later, Jacksonville pulled back to within four at 21-17 when Sylvan Hills’ spike attempt hit the net and a fourth hit was called. But after a delay, the official ruled it a Jacksonville block and an inadvertent whistle that stopped play.

That took the point off the board, and the Lady Bears won the do-over, which drew another delay as Jacoby expressed her disagreement with the ruling.

“That was frustrating because that was about the third or fourth call they had made that I thought was just terrible,” Jacoby said. “I get frustrated about things like that, but I don’t want to come off like that’s why we lost. The difference in this match was they came focused and ready to play and we didn’t.”

Jacksonville grabbed an early lead in game three at 6-2, and it should have grown to 8-2, but back-to-back blocks turned into back-to-back net violations against Jacksonville.

With the score at 7-7, Sylvan Hills Anna Snyder took serve for six points, including three-consecutive aces before Jacoby called a timeout.

“Our service game was really on point,” Treadway said. “We have girls we know are our stronger servers, but tonight it was across the board. Everybody did a pretty good job, and a few of them were outstanding.”

Thomas finished with 12 service points, including seven aces, to lead Sylvan Hills. Young added 10 points on serve, including three aces. Snyder had eight points and four aces.

Toombs led Jacksonville with 10 points and four aces.

The Lady Bears (6-5, 4-2) added two more conference wins on Wednesday and Thursday, beating Mills 3-1 on the road, and then coming home to handle Hall High 3-0 at home.

Scores against Mills were 17-25, 28-26, 25-20 and 25-12. The Lady Bears demolished Hall 25-6, 25-9 and 25-8.

Jacksonville (3-7, 3-3) also lost 3-0 to Maumelle on Thursday to fall a game behind Sylvan Hills.