North Surry’s volleyball winning streak reached 11 games with 3-0 wins over East Surry and Surry Central the past two days.
After starting the year 1-3, the Lady Hounds have been steadily improving, boosted by the return of setter Bailey Culler from a broken hand.
After a few games getting adjusted to having Culler back on the floor, the defending 2A state champions appear to have hit their groove.
“We took advantage of our length and athletic ability at the net,” Coach Shane Slate said after the Central win. “Our passers were putting the ball on target so Bailey could feed our hitters.”
Culler had 40 assists on Tuesday after 37 against East Surry.
She repeatedly set up Malaya Johnson (19 kills), Taylor Hill (13 kills) and Erin March (6).
“Malaya and Taylor had some big swings to score points for us or keep them out of system so they could not run their offense as easily,” Slate said.
“Malaya had the type of efficient game I have been looking for: 19 kills on 26 attempts with only one error,” he said.
In the first set, the Hounds gained some breathing room from a 7-6 lead to 15-11.
At 17-12 Central’s Carrie Hutchens called a timeout. The Lady Eagles responded, cutting the margin to 20-18.
Abby Golding served North to a four-point run to reach set point at 24-18 before the Hounds won 25-19.
In the second set, Central took a 9-6 lead before Golding again served North to a spurt. Five straight points put the Hounds ahead 11-9.
Golding then hit a serve into the net, one of several service errors in that frame.
As Central cut a 19-16 lead to 20-19, North had given away six points of Central’s 19 points on missed serves.
North hit a spike long that would have tied the set, but the officials called a deflection at the net to give the Hounds a 21-19 lead. North would then win the set 25-22.
The Eagles got off to a 3-1 start in the third frame, but North came back to tie the score.
The teams battled evenly for a while before North sneaked out to a 14-10 lead. Central responded with three straight to make it 14-13.
North went up 17-13, highlighted by a powerful stuff block by Johnson. At 19-15, Central called a timeout.
North finished off the game with a 7-1 run for a 25-16 clincher.
“We didn’t play to our full potential,” said Central’s Hutchens. “I don’t know if we took it too seriously and let it get to us.”
The team didn’t take care of the ball, she said. The girls killed themselves with mental and physical errors.
There were times when North Surry didn’t play as well as it can, but the Eagles didn’t capitalize, Hutchens believed. This match should have gone to five set, she added.
Golding led the Hounds’ defense with 16 digs. Morgan Hawks had 10 and Jordan Badgett eight.
On the front line, Johnson finished with seven blocks, including a few stuffs.
At the service line, Hawks had the highest percentage, going 13/14 with an ace. Culler was 10/11 with two aces.
Hutchens said the Eagles didn’t do anything special on the front line against the Hounds.
Cassidy Joyner led the team with just six kills, Kelsey Taylor four and Kristin Key three. Setter Kaitlin Kidd had just 13 assists.
Key, Taylor and McKenzie Danley had one stuff block each.
On the back line, libero Kendra Johnson led the team with 14 digs. Joyner added seven, Taylor and Brooke Lewis four each and Kidd three.
The best part of Central’s game was its serving. Out of 58 swings, the Eagles only had two errors.
Joyner had 12 serves in with an ace, and Johnson had eight serves in with an ace.
Holly Mason was a perfect 8/8 at the line.
“Holly Mason hasn’t missed a serve all season,” Hutchens pointed out. “I’m not trying to jinx her, but she has been really strong for us serving.” The senior also has improved her all-around game since last year and covers the court well on the back row.
North Surry improved to 12-3 and 3-0 in the new Western Piedmont Conference.
Surry Central fell to 7-4 and 2-1, suffering its first conference loss.
In JV action, North Surry won 25-20 and 25-12.
The Hounds travel to South Stokes today.
Surry Central travels to Forbush on Thursday.
On Monday, the Hounds took the three sets 25-18, 25-9 and 25-21.
“We have improved to the point that we can string together longer periods of error-free volleyball,” said Slate, “and the second set was proof of that.”
“We only had four errors, and that allowed us to keep the momentum so we could take advantage of our play at the net. We had good balance (Monday) with five players recording at least five kills, and defensively we were in the correct position most of the time so we had five players with six or more digs.”