Central Arkansas Christian picked up a pair of 4A-Central volleyball wins last week that put Ken Roberts’ Lady Mustangs in a good place in the conference race.
CAC (6-2, 4-0 heading into Tuesday’s match with Pulaski Robinson) beat Marianna, 25-16, 25-12, 25-24; and won at Clinton, 25-23, 25-20, 19-25, 26-24.
"Marianna went fairly well," Roberts said. "We started off on a high after we’d played well in Spikefest, and I think we built on that. But at Clinton — I don’t know if it was the bus trip or just coming down off that high, but we were kind of flat.
"Still, to win a match on the road was good."
But on Saturday, the Lady Mustangs played in the Volley in the Valley tournament at Russellville, and they were winless in pool play against Russellville (the defending Class 6A state champion), Waldron and Cabot and in bracket play against Morrilton.
"We were shocked, but I think a lot of it was being tired," Roberts said. "I was playing just eight girls most of the time."
In the Russellville tournament, he said his team played well at times but had trouble being consistent.
"There were times we could play with just about anybody, and then we’d have some bad serving," he said. "We couldn’t serve consistently. Even some of my most experienced players struggled."
He said Lynn Brown, his registered volunteer assistant, summed up the day when she said CAC played well for a point and then took seven off.
"But in the most important games, we’re coming through," he said. "Clinton was really good defensively. They would hit the floor, and I don’t know if we became frustrated or were pushing too hard because they were good, but we kept hitting and they kept digging and they would force a mistake. Putting points together was our problem."
Since Labor Day, CAC has played six regular and nine tournament matches, so Roberts, the first-year high school coach at Mustang Mountain, has had plenty of opportunities to learn about his team.
"Part of it is I learned I didn’t do a very good job of putting my varsity and JV rosters together," he said. "I put the ones I thought were the best volleyball players on varsity, but I didn’t necessarily put those who would fit into the right spots. I’ve got 16 girls who could play basically on either roster."
So he said Sunday he would prepare a new roster this week.
The Lady Mustangs will resume conference play at Lonoke on Thursday. They’ll play a non-conference match against Harding Academy, a recent Class 3A state champion, on Monday, Sept. 23 and return to conference play against Heber Springs on Tuesday, Sept. 24, to finish the first half of the 4A-Central round-robin.
"Lonoke will be another road trip, but I hope we’ll be rested for that and have our legs under us a little bit better," Roberts said. "After Heber Springs, at least we’ll know what to expect from all the conference teams."