Surry Central outlasted Mount Airy 3-1 in a marathon volleyball match Monday.
The Lady Eagles edged the Lady Bears by 25-23 scores in all three winning games, and lost 25-21 in the other. Even though the match didn’t go to a fifth set, the teams still played for two and a half hours.
The match featured several long points with both teams making great plays to keep rallies going.
Despite being tied or ahead late in every set, the Bears couldn’t pull out enough close ones to force the 15-point fifth set.
In the first set, the Eagles were up 5-4 when the Bears pulled off four straight points to go up 8-5.
Central responded with an 8-2 run to take a 13-10 lead. At 16-12, Mount Airy called a timeout, then began clawing back into the set.
The Bears cut the lead to 19-17, but Central answered with back-to-back points, drawing the second timeout from the home team.
The Bears then made a 5-1 run to tie the game at 22. The teams were tied at 23 also before Central got the last two points.
Set point came at the end of a long rally as Kelsey Taylor made a kill.
Taylor set a season high with 18 kills to lead the Eagles.
Cassidy Joyner (16 kills) always does a good job at outside hitter, but the Eagles try to spread the ball around to keep the defense moving, explained Coach Carrie Hutchens.
Setter Kaitlin Kidd does a good job of distributing the ball and keeping everyone involved, she said.
The Bears also have a strong outside hitter in Kathryn Beasley, who neutralized Joyner’s kills with 24 of her own, but Mount Airy didn’t have a counterpart to Taylor.
Surry Central was trying to take away the line against Kat, but she’s experienced and savvy enough to change up and go around the blocks, said Coach Chuch Morris. Joyner, on the other hand, was hitting the ball high and with top spin so that she could go over the blocks and still be in play, he noted.
In the second game, Mount Airy got off to a fast start, leading 8-2 when Hutchens called a timeout.
The Eagles bounced back with an 8-2 push of their own, including an ace from Joyner, to tie the game at 10-all.
From 15-all, Central went ahead 17-15, but the Bears scored six straight points, five of them off the serve of Megan Fleming.
Morris said it was good to see the freshman stepping up and contributing like that in a big game. The team scored eight points off her serve for the night with only one serve error.
Down 21-17, the Eagles bounced back with four straight points to tie the score. One long rally included a diving one-handed dig from Joyner to punch the ball over the net.
The Eagles went ahead off a stuff block from Kristin Key.
The teams were tied at 22 and 23 before the Eagles got the final two points, just like the first set.
At game point, Key made a save while sliding on her knees to keep the ball alive.
In the third game, Central went up 3-1 and then 7-5, but the Bears refused to fold.
With an 8-4 push, the Bears took the lead 13-11. The Eagles came back to go up 15-14, but the Bears ran off three straight point to get back in the lead.
The Bears led the rest of the way to take a 25-21 set.
That momentum carried over to the fourth frame as the Bears went up 4-0 and then 11-4.
Hutchens has seen her team give up some long runs before, so she called a timeout to get the team to snap out of the funk.
With a 9-2 spurt, the Eagles tied the match at 13. The teams were tied at 14, 15 and 16 before the Bears pulled out to a 22-18 lead. The match looked like it was headed for a fifth set before Central answered.
The Eagles scored seven of the last eight points for another 25-23 win.
While disappointed that the Bears couldn’t pull out those close sets, Morris said he was very pleased with the team’s overall performance.
This was the best passing the players have had all season, he said. They had only six errors in serve-receive and were getting the ball to setter Sarah Lankford well most of the night.
The good passing led to some good chances at the net, too. Beasley had 24 kills out of 61 swings with just five errors; Morris said that was probably her second or third most-efficient match of the season.
Middle hitter Abby Harold also was very efficient. She had just one error up front and six kills, he said.
Mount Airy did have eight bad serves, but that wasn’t so bad since the team was trying to serve aggressively to take Central out of its offensive system, he said.
In kills for Central, after Taylor’s 18 and Joyner’s 16, Tori Blevins gave the Eagles six kills, and Key and Kidd four each.
The Eagles had 50 kills on the night, and Kidd assisted on more than 40 of them as well as her own four kills.
Key led the team with three stuff blocks, while Taylor, Kidd and McKenzie Danley had one each.
In digs, Kendra Johnson had 34 digs, Joyner 18, Kidd eight, Brooke Lewis seven, and Holly Mason and Danley four each.
Holly’s long serve streak came to an end, Hutchens said. After more than 100 serves without an error, Mason missed once in this match. She finished with 12 good serves and two aces.
Kidd had 19 serves in with two aces, Johnson 14 serves with one ace, and Joyner 17 serves with two aces.
The Eagles (8-4) host West Stokes today and Carver on Thursday. The team will hold its cancer-awareness “pink” game on Oct. 8 with Forbush.
Mount Airy travels to East Surry today. After dropping the first eight matches under a new coach, the Bears have gone 3-4 with close losses to Central and North Stokes.