PILOT MOUNTAIN — North Surry pulled away in each set to beat East Surry 3-0 in volleyball Thursday.
The Lady Greyhounds and the Lady Cardinals battled evenly throughout the evening, tallying 18 ties in the three frames.
East played evenly up to about point 17 every time, showing good hustle for most every ball, said Coach Caleb Gilley. However, North just made a few more plays.
North Surry had a very scrappy defense, Gilley said. Some of the Cards’ spikes and tips would be points against most teams, but the Hounds pulled off some good digs.
North lost a couple of valuable seniors from last year’s title team, but they still have the firepower to go deep in the playoffs, he said.
Part of that firepower is the 6-foot-2 Malaya Johnson guarding the middle of the net.
“Malaya is a special player, and we didn’t have anything for her tonight,” said Gilley.
In his previous two years of coaching, Gilley could counter Johnson with the 6-foot-3 Keri Fulp.
With Fulp matriculating to Wake Forest, Gilley said he now could feel what it must have been like for his opponents to see such an intimidating figure in the middle of the floor.
Johnson led the Hounds with 16 kills and six blocks.
“We were better tonight than we were at Watauga Tuesday,” said North Coach Shane Slate. “This time of the year that is your goal: to show improvement every time you step on the court.”
“We were better in serve-receive which helped our offense run smoother,” Slate said. “We were also better at making decisions with the third contact when we were out of system.”
In the first game, the two teams tied on almost every point up to 10-10. Then North pulled ahead 15-11, drawing an East timeout.
The Cards scored three straight points to pull close, but the Hounds moved back out at 21-16 and won 25-20.
Out of those 25 points, Gilley said eight of them were handed to the Hounds by East’s bad serves.
“I felt like North Surry missed a lot of serves that I’m not used to seeing North Surry miss,” said Gilley. However, the Cards couldn’t take advantage because of their own missed serves.
Taylor Hill and Abby Golding led North in serving. Hill was a perfect 12-12 with an ace, and Golding was 16-17 with two aces.
Kristen Hicinbothem led the Cards with three aces.
In the second game, the teams tied at one, two, three and four before the Hounds scored four straight points for an 8-4 lead, as Gilley called a timeout.
North kept a three- to five-point lead until getting its biggest margin of the entire match at 20-14.
The Cards responded with an 8-2 run to take the lead at 23-22. However, North scored the final three points for a 25-23 win.
In the third game, the teams tied repeatedly up until North pulled ahead 11-9. Part of a 7-2 run, the Hounds went up 15-11 before East called a timeout.
Slowly the Cards crawled back into the match, finally tying the score at 19-all. However, North finished the game with a flurry to win 25-20.
The home team got a big boost to its crowd support when football coach David Diamont and several members of his team showed up during the second game. Gilley said he really appreciated the support of the fans throughout the match.
The two teams gave the crowd plenty to cheer about. The match felt more like a playoff game than an early-season nonconference affair.
Gilley said Hicinbothem led the Cards in kills with 10.
Kacie Markle had six kills and seven digs. Jessi Marion had six kills, six digs and three blocks.
Gabi Jessup posted three kills and four blocks. Cheyenne Kota had two kills, five digs and three blocks.
Setter Sydney Mosley had eight digs and 24 assists. Libero Jesse Barr gave five digs.
After Johnson, North’s leading hitters were Alex Cooke with nine kills and Taylor Hill five.
Setter Morgan Hawks had 31 assists, and Cooke also contributed a few out of scramble situations.
Hawks led the Hounds with 17 digs, Hill 12 and Aubrey Hall 10.
Erin March and Hill had two blocks each.
The Cards next travel to Surry Central on Monday. The Hounds have a tri-match on Saturday.
“We still have room for a lot of improvement,” said Slate, “and Saturday’s contests with Starmount and Carson will give us a good measure of where we are.”