BRYANT – The Benton Lady Panthers picked up where they left off the last time they faced their county and 7A/6A South conference rival Bryant Hornets on Tuesday. The Lady Panthers swept the Lady Hornets for the second straight match, taking the match 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-8) in Bryant.
“We have a great team,” Benton Coach Brandy Chumley said. “Our defense is really good most of the time. We’re keeping the ball in play. Very rarely do we make too many stupid decisions. They’re just playing good right now. They’re a very good team and they play well together. It’s fun. They’re getting along well.”
After Bryant setter Britney Sahlmann set sophomore Allie Anderson up for a kill to open the first set, and sophomore Sierra Jones got a kill to make it 2-1 Bryant, it was all Benton the rest of the way. Lady Panther senior Allison Reynolds spiked it down assisted by junior Braxton Chumley to make it 3-2 Benton and the Lady Panthers enjoyed a 12-1 run capped by a Taylor Lindberg kill assisted by Chumley.
The Lady Hornets (6-8, 3-4 South) would get within 16-10 after an Anderson kill, but Benton (13-2, 7-0) would finish the first game on a 9-1 run, capped by a Reynolds’ kill.
“Al’s hitting the ball really well,” Coach Chumley said. “She was cranking it. She started strong and stayed strong. We need to get it to her as much as we can. She’s not our only hitter, but she’s probably our strongest hitter. If she can continue to keep us going, it’s going to be a fun ride.”
After starting the second set 4-0, the Lady Panthers would lose focus and allow Bryant to take a 9-8 lead after three consecutive Benton errors.
“We definitely need to talk some more,” Chumley said. “That’s one thing we need to work on: communication. There were a few errors made and we have to eliminate those. We should have them already eliminated and that third game I thought we did so much better of communicating with each other, keeping the ball in play and taking away errors.”
Benton would regroup taking the second game 25-20 before dominating the third set and winning by 17 points.
“[Tuesday] was not a good night for us,” Bryant Coach Beth Solomon said. “We did not play our A game by any means. We had some key players that were not on their game tonight. Our middles stepped it up big time tonight. Kendall Selig and Mercedes Dillard both had a good night and were connecting with Britney tonight. Whitney Butler had a good night too. We have been plagued with injuries this week and had Savannah Shelton and Mariah Aguilar come in off the bench for us. They did a good job.”
Chumley led the match with 22 assists, adding two kills and two aces, Reynolds led the match with 13 kills and four assisted blocks, Lindberg had 13 assists, six kills, two aces and two assisted blocks, senior Xandra Lock had six kills and three assisted blocks, senior Jennie Hastings had six kills and junior Ashlie Dintleman had four kills. For Bryant, Sahlmann had 10 assists, two kills and a block, Jones had three kills, junior Abby Staton had three kills and sophomore Kendall Selig had two kills. Bryant has no seniors on its team.
The Lady Panthers have swept every conference match this season and their only two losses came against volleyball powerhouses Conway (in Conway) and Mount Saint Mary at Spikefest in early September.
Benton will host JA Fair on Thursday, while Bryant goes out of conference hosting Fountain Lake on Thursday.