PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry came out on top of Surry Central 3-1 in one of the premiere volleyball games of the season.
Both teams battled through long rallies with plenty of fan support in the stands.
“We did OK,” said Central Coach Carrie Hutchens. “We made some errors that we shouldn’t have made, but every team does that. There’s no reason to hang their heads. … This was one of the better matches of the year.”
All four games were close. The one time that East Surry took a sizable lead (7-0 to start set three), the Lady Eagles rallied to tie it up at 11-all.
In the first set, the Eagles took an 11-8 lead, but the Cardinals ran off three straight to tie the score.
When Central scored three straight to take a 17-14 lead, East Coach Caleb Gilley called a timeout. The Cards came back with three points of their own to tie it again.
Surry Central eventually held a set point at 24-23, but middle hitter Keri Fulp hit back-to-back kills to put East ahead. The Cards won 26-24 on the next serve.
“I thought we came out very sluggish and probably should not have won the first set,” said Gilley. The ball just happened to bounce the Cards’ way a couple of times, he admitted, such as a fast serve that caught the top of the net and simply dropped over the other side.
In the first two games, East missed a few serves and “the passing was not good at all,” he said.
Give Central credit, he added. “They had a lot to do with our poor passing. They were aggressive.”
East scored the first two points of the second game, then Central ran off four points for a 4-2 edge. The set would either be tied or East would have a close lead the rest of the way. From 18-17, the Eagles pulled away for a 25-20 win to tie the match at 1-1.
After the home team lost that game, the girls came out with a better focus and did a better job of passing to the front.
“As our passing went, so went the hitting,” he said. “Once we got things together, I thought we played well.”
Surry Central did a better job at blocks in the first two games, said Hutchens. Then the blocks fell off in the second half of the match. The team has to keep up the work at the net, she believed.
In the third game, East ran out to a 7-0 lead behind Kacie Markle’s serve. After a Hutchens timeout, the Eagles responded with an 11-4 run to tie the match.
When East ran off three straight to take a 17-14 lead, Central called a timeout, but couldn’t draw even again as the Cards won 25-18.
The fourth game also was close, but East built a 21-15 edge and held on for a 25-20 win.
“Surry Central is a very good team, very scrappy,” said Gilley. “Their libero, Kendra Johnson, is a heck of a ballplayer for them.”
Johnson led all players with 19 digs. Teammate Cassidy Joyner had 13, Courtney Hegler nine and Kaitlin Kidd six.
Sydney Mosley led East with 16 digs. Jesse Barr and Laken Bowman had eight digs and Olivia Sheets six.
Fulp led all hitters with 22 kills. She added four blocks and five service aces.
Markle added eight kills, Gabi Jessup six and Destiny Edmonds five. Sheets provided 26 assists and six aces.
Ashley Smith gave the Cards six assists and two blocks, while Bowman helped with four aces.
For Central, Joyner led the front line with 12 kills, Brittany Lewis eight, Kidd four, Kelsey Taylor four, Hegler three and Tori Blevins two.
Meagan Hutson had 16 assists and went 17-19 at the service line. Holly Mason had nine assists.
Joyner was 16-16 on serves, Johnson 16-17 and Hegler 17-19.
“That’s a good percentage on service,” said Hutchens.
Taylor had four stuff blocks and Lewis added two.
It was a tough match, but the Eagles made one too many mistakes at key junctures, Hutchens admitted.
“We were not going to be going away easily; we were going to be a thorn in their side,” she said. Of her girls, she added, “They definitely have some fight in them.”
Both coaches remarked on the great fan support, especially when East Surry also was hosting for tennis and soccer at the same time.
“You’ve got to love our fans,” Hutchens said of all those who made the trip from Dobson. “We definitely love that support.”
Surry Central takes on Bishop McGuinness Thursday while the Cards take on conference leader North Surry.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.