PHOTO: Heber Springs Homecoming Parade

These ladies were on the volleyball float during Friday’s homecoming parade. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

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Vanlandingham signs with Lyon college

Heber Springs senior Katelyn Vanlandingham signs her NAIA Letter-of-Intent to play volleyball next season at Lyon College in Batesville.

February 28, 2020


Heber Springs senior Katelyn Vanlandingham quickly made the decision of her distinction to play college volleyball.

Vanlandingham, a four-year starter, signed a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics letter-of-intent with Lyon College Friday (February 28).

She played an important role in leading the Lady Panthers to the 2018 state tournament and within one win of returning in 2019.

“My brother, Tyler, just graduated from Lyon and played football,” said Vanlandingham, when asked about her choice of school. “I received a few other offers, but Lyon was my choice. I love the school.”

Vanlandingham moved from Memphis to Heber Springs before the start of her freshman season. She played volleyball while living in Memphis, and Heber Springs coach Andrea Riggs said that experience showed on the court during the past four years.  

“She was a huge contributor to the program,” Riggs said. “She had more experience in the beginning than other players and it showed. She had good skills and could pass, serve and hit the ball well.”

Heber Springs’ Katelyn Vanlandingham

Vanlandingham said she didn’t know what to expect after leaving Memphis, but it worked well.

“It was a big transition,” she said. “I had a good four years and proud of what I did.”

Vanlandingham said it’s difficult to select one special memory while playing for the Lady Panthers, but she will remember all four seasons.

“Every game was a memory,” she said.

Riggs said Vanlandingham is showing the younger players that hard work can pay off and help in receiving an opportunity to play in college.

“The current high school players and the younger players coming up will benefit from Katelyn’s signing,” Riggs said. “It may help in getting girls playing other sports to consider volleyball. It will help in continuing the program’s success. We want to keep it going in that direction.”

Vanlandingham said one of her goals next season is contribute to her new team’s success.

“I hope to play as a freshman,” she said. “I’m focusing on all areas. There is always room for improvement.”

With Vanlandingham signing with Lyon College, she becomes the sixth Heber Springs athlete to sign with the Batesville school in the past two years.
CHEER AND DANCE - Gentry Hamilton     
VOLLEYBALL - Katelyn Vanlandingham
WOMEN'S SOCCER - Taylor Hammons
BASEBALL - Nick Chaney
FOOTBALL - Blaze Nelson

Look back, and ahead, for Heber Springs volleyball

The 2019 Heber Springs Panther Volleyball Team. Front, from left, Jessica Blalock, Summer Brown, McKenzie Becerra, Abi Finkbeiner and Mayra Leal. Middle, from left, Pilar Monsivais, Cheyenne Bresnahan, Alaina Endicott, Mary May, Brieannen Cook, Divina Nixon, Summer Nolan, and Hope Gilchrist. Back, from left, head coach Andrea Riggs, Zoe Monroe, Ellie Skelton, Felicia Wildmon, Kiley Wilson, Katelyn Vanlandingham, Cheyenne Kent, Nichole Thayer and assistant coach Kim Johnson.

December 24, 2019


Three Heber Springs players were named to the Class 4A-Central Conference all-conference volleyball team.

Seniors McKenzie Becerra and Katelyn Vanlandingham were selected to the first team. Becerra was also an nominee for the state all-star game. Zoe Monroe was an honorable mention selection.

Heber Springs (7-7 in conference, 10-15 overall) tied for fourth place with Lonoke, which qualified for the state tournament on a tiebreaker.

The Lady Panthers, who completed their eighth year of competition, attempted to earn back-to-back state tournament berths. Heber Springs qualified for the state tournament in 2018 for the first time in the program’s history.

“We came close to go back to the state tournament,” coach Andrea Riggs said. “We progressed throughout the year, but we were capable of doing better. The players played well when considering their level of overall experience compared to other teams. I wish we could have gotten back to state, but we will try and do that next year.”

Riggs said next season will be different with the graduation of six senior starters and searching for a new starting lineup.

“We served well for most of the season,” said Riggs when asked about areas of improvement. “The players developed more mental toughness. We will look to this year’s JV players and maybe some help from the junior high team. Offseason work will be very important in building next year’s team.”

Heber Springs had a junior high program for the first time in the program’s history, and Riggs said that will benefit future players.

“We had played ninth graders in the past, and they are important for the next year’s team,” she said. “Adding the upcoming eighth graders will help. The junior high school program will close the gap of players’ experience from other teams’ players. I’m looking forward in seeing what the younger players will do next season.”

Heber Springs hosts Lonoke in final home match

Heber Springs senior Cheyenne Kent waits for a serve during recent volleyball action against Clarksville. The Panthers will face Lonoke at 4:30 p.m. in their final home match. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

October 17, 2019

Heber Springs will host Lonoke tonight at the Panther Den in a key 4A-Central volleyball match.

The Panthers (9-13 overall) set at 6-6 in the conference after wins over Clarksville last week (25-22, 25-19, and 25-19) and Dover (25-18, 25-15 and 25-11), on Tuesday, while Lonoke is 5-6 in conference play. Heber Springs is a half-game ahead of the Jackrabbits in the race for the fourth and final spot to represent the conference in the state tournament.

Morrilton leads the conference with an 11-0 mark followed by Pulaski Academy at 10-2 and Joe T. Robinson at 8-4.

Lonoke swept Heber Springs (25-23, 25-11 and 25-23) on Sept. 24. After today’s match, the Panthers will travel to Morrilton to close out conference play on Tuesday, before finishing regular season play on Thursday at Conway St. Joseph in a nonconference match.

Lonoke (7-16-3) will close out conference play with Clarksville and Forrest City.

If Lonoke and Heber Springs are tied at the end of the regular season, the Panthers will need to sweep the Jackrabbits today to go to the second tiebreakers of point differentials.

In the victory over Clarksville on Oct. 8, the match was forced out of the Panther Den after an air-conditioning unit malfunctioned, according to school officials, causing the smoke alarms to be set off inside the gym three points into the first match of the senior high match. The smell of smoke could also could be detected in the hallway near the girls’ dressing room. The players and fans were evacuated until the Heber Springs fire department arrived. Out of precaution, the match was moved to the old gymnasium.

A member of the Heber Springs Fire Department inside the Panther Den on Oct. 8.

Panther volleyball splits matches

September 19, 2019

Heber Springs senior McKenzie Becerra gets ready to serve against Joe T. Robinson on Tuesday at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

After dropping a five-set match to conference foe Joe T. Robinson on Tuesday at the Panther Den, Heber Springs rebounded on Thursday with a three-match sweep of Dover on the road.

Heber Springs, 4-5 overall, improved to 3-2 in the 4A-Central with the 25-14, 25-17, 25-21 win at Dover.

On Tuesday, Heber Springs won the first match, 25-23, but dropped the next 21-25 and 13-25. The Panthers rebounded in the fourth match with a 25-12 win to force the deciding match in which the Panthers lost 9-15.

Heber Springs hosts Rose Bud Monday at the Panther Den in nonconference action before traveling to Lonoke on Tuesday for a 4A-Central match.

Heber Springs’ Katelyn Vanlandingham serving against Joe T. Robinson on Tuesday at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

CBC finishes 2-2 at Philander Smith

August 31, 2019


LITTLE ROCK – Looking to continue their momentum after splitting on the first day of the Philander Smith Classic, Central Baptist College volleyball took the court today for two more game at Mims Gymnasium. CBC (2-2) won the first match of the day over Texas College 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-10) before dropping the second match to Tabor College 3-1 (15-25, 25-16, 11-25, 18-25).

Juliane Abernathy (FR/Katy, Texas) had a big day, posting double-digit kills in both matches. Taylor Folsom (FR/North Little Rock), Hope Johnson (SR/Rogers) and Alizea Garza (JR/Odessa, Texas) also posted double digits in assists and digs in both matches as well.


The Mustangs dropped the first set against Texas College before winning the final three. Emily Farmer (FR/Vilonia) posted a double-double, recording 17 kills with 19 digs, while Abernathy posted 14 kills and hit .333 in the match. Folsom had 33 assists and Johnson had 17 while Garza also recorded 18 digs. CBC had 58 kills to just 33 for the Steers while hitting .205 to just .128 for TC.


CBC struggled to keep momentum in match two, winning set two before dropping the final two sets to fall to 2-2 for the weekend. Abernathy led the way with 12 kills while Folsom recorded 17 assists and Johnson had 12. Garza recorded 22 digs while Kelsy Knox (SR/Barling) added 15 digs of her own. Tabor outhit the Mustangs .197 to .016 and posted seven blocks to just three for CBC.


The Mustangs return to the court on Tuesday night in Tyler, Texas, when they will face the Steers of Texas College for a second time. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m.

John Brown opens season with close losses

August 14, 2019


FULLERTON, Calif. – The John Brown University volleyball team opened the 2019 campaign with a pair of setbacks, falling in straight sets to Montana Tech and No. 15 The Master’s (Calif.) inside the Darling Pavilion on the first day of the Hope International (Calif.) Summer Slam on Wednesday (Aug. 14).

Senior Carly McKinney appeared in her first outing since 2017, and contributed a team-best 15 digs on the defensive end, adding onto a five-kill, two-ace effort. Senior and returning All-SAC first teamer Jessica Schultz posted a team-best eight terminations and hit .462 (7-1-13) on the match. She also threw up four block-assists.

Sophomore Jenna Lowery, reigning SAC Freshman of the Year, added 14 scoops on the back row, while both Golden Eagle setters, sophomore Carrie Ciesla and freshman Lauren Cloud, each nearly missed a double-double in the first match of the season. Ciesla finished the match with 14 assists and nine digs, while Cloud added 10 helpers and nine scoops in her collegiate debut.

Both squads struggled to find the offense early, but John Brown (0-2) persisted out to a set-high three-point advantage, 15-12. The Orediggers (1-0) responded, however, and rattled off amd 9-4 run to take its first lead at 21-19 lead. Coming out of a JBU timeout, Montana Tech captured three of the next four points to close out the first set, 25-22.

The second set featured a back-and-forth affair that included back-to-back aces from freshman Jillian Blackman the vaulted the Golden Eagles into a 13-9 advantage. That would vanish, however, as Tech responded to take a 14-13 lead. The streak would finally break at 7-1 over eight rallies when an Oredigger service error and a Jaden Williams rejection knotted the score at 16 apiece. Facing a 21-17 hole, Ciesla served JBU back into contention with an ace and a Beck-Schultz block that again tied the score, this time at 21. However, an attack error and reception error fueled Montana Tech’s final run to a 25-22 win and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

The third and final set was never in doubt as the Orediggers came out with a 11-4 lead to capture the final set running away, 25-15. Tech posted its match-high .333 attack clip (13-1-36) in the last set.

The John Brown hitting finished the contest at .060 (30-23-117), while the Orediggers, carried by its strong third set, ended the match at .155 (30-13-110).

Later in the evening, the Golden Eagles hit the court again to take on No. 15 The Master’s (Calif.). The Mustangs (1-1) came out swinging, hitting over .300 in two of the three sets.

Freshman Ellie Lampton provided a bright spot from the service line as the Siloam Springs native launched four aces, a game high, as Schultz again led the offensive effort, posting a team-best eight kills. Williams turned in an especially strong effort, terminating seven attacks without committing an error to finish the match .438 (7-0-16).

The Golden Eagle attack continued to struggle, hitting just .094 (33-20-138), while The Master’s responded with a .277 (48-12-130) effort.

Ciesla passed out 14 helpers while freshman Morgan Fincham added nine in her collegiate debut. Junior Taylor Glover scooped up 13 attack attempts in the loss.

Back-to-back kills from Glover and Schultz kept JBU in the first set to push the score to 10-9 in favor of the Mustangs. A 6-0 run from TMU placed the Golden Eagles back into a deficit until a Beck kill and a Cloud ace brough John Brown to within four, 19-15. The Mustangs again ended the JBU response quickly, ending the first set on a 6-1 run to close out the set, 25-16.

Nine ties highlighted the back-and-forth second-set battle between the two teams. Tied at 17 apiece after neither team had more than a two-point lead the entire set, the Mustangs ripped off four consecutive points before John Brown responded with back-to-back Lampton aces to pull within one, 21-20. The Golden Eagles wouldn’t get any closer, with TMU finishing off the 25-20 win.

The Golden Eagles continued its hunt for a set victory by keeping close with the Mustangs for yet another nine ties throughout the third. Down 11-9, Lampton and Lowery served John Brown into an 18-13 lead before The Master’s could respond, highlighted by kills from McKinney, Williams and Fincham. Again, the rally would end there, as the Mustangs responded late with an 8-6 run to retake the lead, 21-19. A Williams terminations continued the match, tying the score at 25 apiece, but back-to-back Mustang kills completed the final set, 27-25, and the match.

John Brown returns to action tomorrow (Aug. 15) when the Golden Eagles take on Evergreen State (Wash.) and California – Merced at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. JBU will then return home to Siloam Springs before continuing the season in Kansas on Aug. 23-24.

John Brown evens record in California

August 15, 2019


FULLERTON, Calif. – Behind a 14-kill effort from senior Jessica Schultz in the first match of the day against Evergreen State (Wash.) and a strong defensive team effort against California, Merced, the John Brown University volleyball team evened its record to 2-2 on the young season on Thursday (Aug. 15) inside the Darling Pavilion.

JBU dispatched Evergreen State in five (25-16, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25, 15-12) before sweeping past California, Merced (25-13, 26-24, 25-21).

“Our trip out to California provided our team with the opportunity to play some really high-caliber teams at the HIU Summer Slam tournament,” head coach Ken Carver said. “While we definitely struggled with the consistency of our execution on the first day of the tournament, I was really pleased with our team’s ability to re-focus and come out ready to play on the second day of the tournament. The first sets of both of our matches on the second day of the tournament provided our team and our fans a glimpse of what our team is capable of doing in terms of our offensive potential and serving aggressiveness.

“With only eight days to prepare for this tournament, I knew that we stood a good chance of being inconsistent offensively as we’re still very much developing the chemistry between all of our hitters and setters as well as the meshing of our new players with the core group of returning players. Whereas on the first day we struggled to close out sets and breakdown mentally when not playing well, our team showed a lot more grit and poise today when our opponents pushed runs of points. We did a much better job of letting go of our mistakes and working to play the next ball. I was also really pleased with the team’s overall performance from the service line and our service reception. I think those two areas were where our team performed the best. We had moments of playing really stellar defense, but need to keep working on our defensive discipline as well as bettering our blocking performance.

“All in all, to come away from this very competitive tournament experience, on such short amount of preparation time, I am very pleased with where our team is starting out at. With another week of practice ahead of our second weekend tournament, I am expecting to continue ironing out the kinks and finding a more consistent rhythm with our team that will hopefully lead to an even better result on the court our second week out.”

Against Evergreen State, Schultz led the way with an impressive hitting performance, collecting 14 kills and hit .619 (14-1-21) to lead all attackers in the contest. She also contributed four block assists. Senior Carly McKinney and junior Taylor Glover each posted their first double-digit termination match of the season, as the duo combined for 10 kills apiece. McKinney completed her first double-double of the season by leading all players with 26 digs.

Sophomore Carrie Ciesla notched a career high with 29 assists on John Brown’s 52 kills on the match.

The Golden Eagles (2-2) dominated from the service line, launching 10 aces on Evergreen. McKinney had four, while freshmen Ellie Lampton and Lauren Cloud added three and two, respectively.

John Brown never trailed in the first set – running out to a 17-9 lead courtesy of a difficult Geoduck outing offensively as ESC posted a .051 (9-7-39) mark in the opening game. JBU replied with a .278 clip (13-3-36), its best single-set outing of the 2019 season so far.

Again, the Blue and Gold never trailed in the second set, but this wasn’t without drama. Back-to-back Schultz terminations was followed by a pair of Lampton aces to hand the Golden Eagles a 15-8 advantage. Later, with a 19-10 lead, JBU had to battle through a 11-3 Evergreen run that pulled the Geoducks within one, 22-21. Junior Jaden Williams and senior Kinzee Mayo combined on a block to end the ESC rally in its tracks, as another Geoduck attack error followed by a Mayo-Schultz rejection ended the set in favor of the Golden Eagles.

Sets three and four featured tight battles that saw Evergreen pull off mid-to-late set rallies – knotting the score at two apiece and forcing a fifth and deciding game.

Three early ties in the fifth set was finally broken by terminations from McKinney and Williams, and punctuated by a Lauren Cloud ace that gave JBU a 6-3 lead. ESC would pull within one, but a string of unforced errors allowed the Golden Eagles to retain an 11-7 lead. The Geoducks replied with a 5-1 rally to tie the match as 12, but Schultz’s kill followed by a pair of Evergreen attack errors ended any chance of a rally.

JBU finished the match hitting .119 (52-29-193), but kept Evergreen at bay, holding the Geoducks to a mere .109 (53-33-187).

The second match of the day was far less dramatic as the Merced attack, .023 (34-31-130), only had enough gas to give the Golden Eagles one close set.

A balanced attack for John Brown featured eight kills from Mayo, a second high, and seven from senior Megan Beck. However, it was the JBU defensive effort that solidified the win.

McKinney scooped up another 20-dig effort, while Schultz and Mayo led the way with four blocks apiece as John Brown posted 14 block-assists to hold the Bobcats in check. Williams also contributed three rejections in the win.

Cloud and McKinney each served up three aces as the Golden Eagles finished the tournament with 31 aces, averaging just shy of eight per match.

In the first set, John Brown blew open a narrow 11-9 lead to take a 20-12 advantage, courtesy of a Cloud ace. Three consecutive Merced attack miscues fueled the Golden Eagle run to clinching the first set. JBU finished the set on a 14-4 rally.

A 7-1 John Brown rally to open the second forced a quick Bobcat timeout, and before Merced could rally, the Golden Eagles had built a 10-2 lead. Miscues allowed Merced to build some momentum, however, and three straight Bobcat kills that tied the match at 20 apiece forced Ken Carver to burn a timeout.

The squads traded points through eight rallies as the match was tied at 24. A Mayo kill from Cloud gave the Golden Eagles the advantage, and a subsequent Merced attack error ended the set that the Bobcats nearly stole.

Instead, the Golden Eagles carried a 2-0 lead into the third set – one that featured 10 ties and six lead changes. Neither team had more than a one-point lead until back-to-back blocks gave John Brown a small 3-0 rally to take an 18-15 lead. That’s all the Blue and Gold would need as the lead eventually grew to five, 23-18, until Beck’s kill ended the match from Ciesla.

John Brown, now back to .500, returns to action in Hutchinson, Kan., on Aug. 23-24. The Golden Eagles face a quartet of Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference foes in the annual KCAC Fall Fling.