Friday, August 25, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers drop opener at Benton

By ANN THARP Special to The Leader

The Cabot Lady Panther volleyball team started the season with a 3-0 non-conference loss to the Benton Lady Panthers Tuesday at Benton High School. The Cabot team had played and won sets over Sheridan and Greenbrier in the Wampus Cat benefit jamboree in Conway on August 17, but Tuesday’s loss was their first official match.

Benton took the first set 25-14, and the second 25-10. Cabot was able to rally in the third set to make it closer, but Benton still won, 25-19, to claim the victory in straight sets.

“I just felt like we had an off night,” Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk said. “I’d rather that happened now. This is a non-conference game, so hopefully we’ll learn from it. We did really well at the team camp here in Benton. We competed against the best. We’re all getting tired of practicing. I think having a game and getting a routine will help us get mentally ready every Tuesday and Thursday. We’re going to be at the Spikefest this weekend, so we’ll get a lot of playing time and a lot of competition. Let’s hope that they’ll just shake it off and continue to get better and better.”

Benton scored first in the opening set to take a 2-0 lead. Morgan Brown got Cabot on the scoreboard with an off-speed kill, but Benton regained possession of the serve and went ahead 5-1 on a kill by Rylea Brimhall. Brown got another kill, this time down the line, but a combination of Benton kills and service aces, and Cabot miscues gave Benton a 15-5 advantage before the visiting Lady Panthers were able to score three consecutive points. A kill by senior Mollie Johnson scored the middle of the three.

Benton went ahead 20-9 before Cabot again scored three points. Benton was called for being out of rotation. Johnson had another kill, and Kallie Cavin a kill off the backset of setter Sydney Teer. This pulled Cabot to within 20-12, but Benton was able to put together four kills, including the one on set point by Caitlin Murdock to win the first set 25-14. Ashlee Wilkerson had a kill on an overpass, and Devyn Britt one off a Benton block for Cabot toward the set’s end.

It was all Benton to start set number two as they pulled away for a 22-5 lead. Cabot put together a run on the serve of Britt and scored five consecutive points to pull within 22-10, but Benton scored three to end the set with a second set score of 25-10.

The third and final set was tied at two and at three before Cabot took its only lead of the match.

Brown had a kill for Cabot to tie at 3-3, then stepped back to the service line and served an ace for the 4-3 edge.

However, the home Panthers then scored six straight, including two aces that barely cleared the net. Cabot pulled within 12-9 on a kill by Britt.

Errors by both teams led to a 20-13 Benton lead, but a couple of kills by Johnson and a three point swing on the serve rotation of Aria Bolman pulled the visiting Lady Panthers to within five at 23-18.

A Cabot block out of bounds gave Benton match point, but a net serve by Benton, and then a final kill by the home team set the final set score at 25-19.

Johnson led Cabot in kills with seven, Britt had five and Brown four.

Teer finished with 18 assists and eight digs. She also served two aces.

After today’s Spikefest Tournament in Little Rock, the Cabot Lady Panthers will play Thursday at Mount Saint Mary’s.