DOBSON — The Lady Eagles came within a couple of inches of breaking North Surry’s long winning streak in volleyball Thursday.
Surry Central led 24-23 in the fourth set and served for the match. Kaitlin Kidd’s serve looked like it might be long, and North Surry let it go. The ball bounced right at the back line, but North got the point to tie the set.
Central Coach Carrie Hutchens said she was upset on the call because the flag girl on that corner called the ball in, but the official overruled her.
Both Hutchens and North’s Shane Slate had times where they sent their team captains over to question calls in a match where every point was important.
North went on to win the fourth set and then took the fifth set 15-11 for its 18th consecutive win.
“It was a good, hard-fought match — the way volleyball is supposed to be played,” said Hutchens.
Slate agreed, calling it “an exciting battle between two teams who really played their hearts out. That type of atmosphere made winning our fifth-straight conference title even better.”
At the start, both teams had trouble getting their serves in play as Central edged ahead 9-7.
Behind Morgan Hawks’ serve, the Lady Greyhounds ran off five straight points for a 12-9 lead.
However, the Eagles answered with an 8-2 run to go up 17-14.
North scored twice to close to within a point, but Central pulled away for a 25-20 win.
On the first point of the second set, North Surry’s Taylor Hill was injured while moving in for a kill.
Hill appeared to get tangled up with the official’s stand and the net post. She fell to her side and reached for her left knee and ankle.
Hill was carried off the court and did not return.
“I really like the fact we rallied after Taylor injured her ankle, and different people found ways to make us better,” said Slate. “Injuries and illness are an unfortunate part of athletics; good teams find ways to overcome adversity.”
Rather than hang their heads, the Hounds jumped out to a 10-3 lead and went on to take the only one-sided set of the night 25-12.
During one timeout, Hutchens loudly implored her team, “You know what to do — make the pass. Do something with the ball.”
In the third set, North went ahead 6-3 and was lead 12-10 when over the next few plays there were two calls that had the Central crowd jeering.
North pulled ahead 17-12 and was up 21-16 when Central scored five of the next six points to cut the lead to one.
The Eagles went up 24-22 serving for the win, but Erin March and Malaya Johnson had back-to-back kills for the Hounds. The Eagles answered with two straight points for a 26-24 win.
Central led 2-1 at that point and could have won the match in the fourth set if not for that close call on the match point.
Johnson finished off the set with a kill for a 26-24 win.
In the final set, North jumped out to a 5-1 lead, drawing a timeout from Central.
The Eagles called their second timeout at 12-7 and then went on a 4-1 run to get to 13-11.
However, the Hounds earned the final two points for the match.
“On our side the difference between us being successful or coming up short was the number of errors we made when the ball was in our hands,” said Slate. “Serving, attacking, setting or third contacts.
“We had 14 and 11 in sets one and three, eight in sets two and four with only three in the fifth set.”
Making errors, he said, “that plays into the hands of a highly motivated team that takes care of the ball the way Central did tonight. We did a better job as a team in sets four and five handling their tips and cut shots because in the first three sets we were getting beat on a lot of plays because we were late to read and react.”
Hutchens said the Eagles didn’t have a lot of hard kills because they were trying to make the Hounds move around on defense.
It doesn’t help that North Surry has the 6-foot-2 Johnson and 5-foot-11 March guarding the net.
While Central doesn’t have the same height, Hutchens said she was proud of the way her team challenged shots. The team only had six stuffs, but several balls were knocked back to the other side.
Even the swings that got through were often slowed down by a deflection, she noted.
“It was the best game we’ve played all season,” said Hutchens.
The Hounds host East Wilkes on Monday, while the Eagles go to West Forsyth Monday.