Experiencing ups and downs because of their youth, the North Pulaski Falcons are starting to signs of competitiveness.

Two days ago, the Falcons began the second round of 5A-Central play with a three-set victory over West Helena. That win moved them to 4-4 in conference play. The heartbreaker was a lost to Sylvan Hills last week losing 27-25, 26-24 and 25-22.

"We scored 72 for them," North Pulaski Coach Benjie Belton said. "We played really hard, but we just aren’t consistent."

The Falcons are starting to pound the ball and not pushing the ball over or sending a free ball over the net. Part of the reason is the return of senior setter Emily Long, who missed the beginning season with a shoulder injury. While Belton said it took a while for the team to adjust to Emily being back in the lineup, the girls are now starting to get used to one another and gelling again.

"Her sets are better and more consistent, so she is making our middles better," Belton said. "We are starting to put some wrinkles in our offense. Our defense is definitely better, and we are covering better. One thing we are doing is winning the long volleys. Used to we wouldn’t, but lately we are winning them."

Belton did point out the play of some reserves and praised Megan Lewis and Kim Brewer for their serving and Pauline Barola for her defense.

If the Falcons can finish the conference by playing competitive volleyball, Belton thinks they can sneak up on some people. Last night, they had a non-conference matchup with Episcopal and host Pulaski Academy today.

"Our goal was to go 3-0 this week," Belton said. "If we can win some games, we can gain confidence, be more competitive and hit the ball harder."

What could throw a wrench into the Falcons’ quest to go 3-0 is the health of outside hitter Casey Mullen. She did something to her knee at West Helena and was to be evaluated yesterday. If she is out for a period of time, that will mess up North Pulaski’s lineup and chemistry.