Fresh off the school’s first volleyball conference championship since 1991, Coach Chuck Morris and the Lady Bears hit the gym Friday morning for practice at 8 a.m.
After a title-clinching 3-0 win over second-place Bishop McGuinness on Thursday, Mount Airy has already accomplished so many of its goals this season, but there is still work to be done in the eyes of Morris.
“We have six or seven matches at the minimum left in our season,” Morris said. “It’s time to get back to work, so we can keep getting stronger in these final matches.”
Despite the drive for more, Morris admitted he was thrilled for his team and especially seniors Skyler Flippen, Abby Harold and Katie Hicks after the victory over the Villains.
He believes his team’s biggest improvement from last season is its ability to brush aside early struggles and deficits, and the Lady Bears displayed that perseverance on Thursday.
Bishop jumped out to an early advantage and led throughout most of the first set. Morris said he could tell the Lady Bears were a bit nervous with the moment, and the Villains had two game points at 24-22.
However, Mount Airy bounced back to score the next four points and take the opening set 26-24. It was a win that propelled the Bears throughout the rest of the match.
“It was a real big confidence boost,” Morris said. “We knew we could come back against them, and it shook the fear out that we were in for a long night.”
It was a rather quick evening, actually. Mount Airy cruised in set two with a 25-19 win and finished the match off in the third set at 25-20. Morris credited his team’s serving as the Lady Bears recorded 16 aces compared to only five errors. Sadie Brooks and Harold led the team with five aces.
One of Mount Airy’s biggest strengths this season is its offensive balance. On Thursday, four Lady Bears recorded at least six kills. Hicks led the team with 10, followed by Madeline Mayfield (8) Brooks (7) and Megan Flemming (6).
This championship is the culmination of hard work well beyond this season. Morris said this was one of the best off-seasons he’s had at Mount Airy, highlighted by their team summer camp.
The development of cohesion helped the Lady Bears get rid of some mental demons en route to this historic season.
“I think there always some lingering doubt because of the struggles we’ve had in the past,” Morris said. “There were some tears when we got that last point, because we finally reached our goal.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16