DOBSON — Surry Central broke out of a slump with a 3-0 sweep of South Stokes in the first round of the Western Piedmont Conference volleyball tournament.
The Lady Eagles bounced back from a rough two weeks to put together an impressive run in the middle of the match with the Lady Sauras.
The Eagles came within inches of beating top-seeded North Surry, then fell to a 4A team. Close five-set losses to Forbush and West Stokes dropped the team into fourth place in the six-team conference, but the Eagles showed their potential Monday.
“South Stokes came out really strong in the first set,” said Coach Carrie Hutchens.
The Sauras scored the first four points and led 7-3 as the Eagles worked through some early jitters.
South led 13-11 when Central put together its best rally of the night. Good passing, setting and hitting put pressure on the Sauras, but South Stokes still earned the point eventually.
Rather than hang their heads, the Eagles appeared to have a little more pep after that.
The team fought hard for that point and obviously they were flustered, said Hutchens, but they came back determined and maybe a little angry after that.
“We were determined to come and play the way we know we can play,” the coach said.
Hutchens called a timeout at 15-12, and the Eagles came back with three straight points to tie the set.
After ties at 16, 17 and 18, the Sauras scored two points to take the lead 20-18.
From that point on, the Eagles were clearly the best team on the floor. For the next two and a half sets, the Eagles outscored South Stokes 57-21.
The Eagles had a 5-1 run to take a 23-21 lead. After a timeout, Kelsey Taylor hit an ace to reach set point, then Kristin Key got her only stuff block of the night to win 25-21.
“We did a fairly good job of siding out and taking care of the ball,” said Hutchens. The team kept down the mental errors: passing, setting and hitting, showing better consistency.
After that 7-1 finish, the Eagles started the second frame 10-1, including six points off the serve of Tori Blevins.
The lead reached 18-4 before the Eagles had some lapses and gave up four straight points.
Hutchens urged her team to bear down, and the girls responded with a 7-1 push to close the set 25-9.
The third set was tied 3-3 when Central scored 10 of the next 12 points for a 13-5 lead.
The two teams swapped points after that up to 17-10 when the Eagles ran off seven straight points with Brooke Lewis serving.
After a Sauras point, Cassidy Joyner ended the game with a kill at 25-11.
It is hard to come from behind in a set, said Hutchens, so the team was working hard to try to take a lead and then keep it.
The kills were spread around. Joyner led with seven, Taylor and McKenzie Danley had six, Blevins three, Kendra Johnson two and Kaitlin Kidd one.
Kidd, bouncing back from a rolled ankle last week, handed out 19 assists. Joyner and Danley added one each.
There were times in the match where Hutchens allowed Kidd to slide over to one of the outside positions for some swings of her own. She said she is thankful to have athletes who can switch roles like that.
Taylor led the team with three stuff blocks, but the front line had several deflections, too, the coach noted.
On the back line, Kendra Johnson led in digs with 18. Joyner added 10 digs, Brooke Lewis and Holly Mason eight each, Kidd five and Danley and Blevins two each.
Lewis was perfect at the service line, going 9-9. Kidd had the most serves in play with 15 and one ace. Blevins had 14 serves in with an ace. Johnson, Mason and Taylor all had 10 serves in play.
The semifinal and final rounds will take place at Forbush.
The host school plays West Stokes tonight at 5 p.m., followed by Central against North Surry at 7 p.m.