Mount Airy’s volleyball team came into the 2017 season with a lot of youth, but with the kind of schedule a veteran team would be expected to tackle. The result has been several tough four- and five-set losses and an uncharacteristic 9-9 record going into Tuesday’s match with visiting South Stokes.
But the Lady Bears remain solidly in second place in the Northwest 1A Conference standings, and the team continues to improve as postseason play looms on the horizon. The team’s latest outing produced a 25-12, 25-15, 25-20 rout of the Sauras that pushed the team’s overall mark over .500 and its league record to 6-1.
Mount Airy had one of its best all-around matches of the season, scoring a kill percentage of .443 and committing no ball-handling errors in its win. The Lady Bears’ defense was solid as well, with 10 blocks and 82 digs. Four players reached double-figures in the latter category, led by senior Kayla Hicks, who entered Tuesday ranked second in 1A volleyball with 352 digs and added 19 more against the Sauras.
The home team never trailed in this one, rolling to a quick early 10-3 lead and forcing South Stokes Jayson Duncan to call timeout. It didn’t matter, though. Avery Cox immediately scored a kill from the outside on the next point before the Sauras could finally halt the run. South Stokes’ fans finally had something to cheer about when Lydia Caudill scored a block on Lady Bear senior Arry Ward, but Ward would more than repay the favor later on. In the meantime, Cox and Hicks took command. After Cox scored another kill to get her team back on serve, Hicks delivered an ace. Then the cycle repeated when the Sauras handled the next serve, only to see the Lady Bear freshman put it away. Hicks followed with her second ace in three serves and it was 17-6. Stokes freshman Chloe Stewart angled a shot just inside the sideline for a point and Mary Weaver served an ace for the Sauras, but the Lady Bears took command again and won set one going away.
In set two, Mount Airy led 5-1, but a service ace by Hallie Carroll and some strong defensive play pulled South Stokes back within 6-5 before the Lady Bears’ hitters took over. Ward blasted one got a kill, and then Mayfield did the same to make it 8-5. After the Sauras hit one long and a lengthy debate ensued, Ward scored a block to make it 10-5. But Mount Airy pushed the lead to eight before Stokes could stop the run. At 17-6, Macy Nelson had a kill for the visitors, only to have Piper Draughon and Hanne Cook hit back-to-back winners and then Cooke get up for a block and a 20-7 lead.
The rest of the set and all of the third set saw the Lady Bears subbing liberally, and Mount Airy was able to put the match away in three sets.
Mayfield led her team with 11 kills. Hannah Williams added nine, followed by Cox, Cooke and Draughon with six each and Ward with five. Ward had five blocks and Cooke four, while Mayfield (17), Avery Cox (13) and Meredith Cox (12) were the other three Lady Bears besides Hicks with double-digit digs. Avery Cox had 19 assists and Brooke Lankford 15.
The Lady Bears are on a four-match winning streak and will try to make it five today, when they step out of conference play for a match at Alleghany High School.