Fans of Heber Springs packed the old Panther Den for the first home volleyball match in school history on Thursday. Behind powerful hitters Courtney Farrier and Kaylee Rich, Southside Batesville spoiled the Lady Panthers' debut with a three-set sweep (25-7, 25-16, 25-9).
At this point, the games are more about establishing a foundation rather than winning. Heber Coach Andrea Riggs said her team continues to work hard, leading to improved play.
"I thought they did really well. I thought they played hard and did some little things that people in the stands probably don't know to look for because this is the first time they have seen them play. They have had a lot of minor victories.
"It's hard to stay focused and stay encouraged whenever you are behind. They moved better and played better as a team tonight. This was the best they have played as a team, just moving and knowing where each other is on the floor," Riggs added.
The Lady Panthers, who fell to 0-2 in 4A Central conference games, scored their first point on an errant hit by Southside. Trailing 6-1, Devrie Attendorn recorded the first true point in school history, leaping high over the net while finding a hole on the Lady Southerners' side.
After falling in the first set, Heber came out strong in the second set, building a 5-1 lead as Sydney Reed scored two point off serves, Janae Long used a strong spike for a point, Shelby Clark scored off a backward dig and Madi Fires added a point on a serve.
Tied at 6-6, Southside scored four straight and never looked back, taking the second set and cruising in the third set of a best-of-5 match.
In a best-of-3 junior varsity match, Southside won in two sets (25-17, 25-22). Rachel Morris scored Heber's first point at home in junior varsity action.
Heber visits Maumelle for a 4A Central match on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.