First and second in the Northwest 1A Conference volleyball standings were decided earlier in the week, but Mount Airy still wanted to end the regular season on a high note.
After missing out on a possible share of the league title earlier in the week, the Lady Bears came back home for Senior Night and a tilt with Bishop McGuinness on Thursday evening. Departing seniors Kayla Hicks, Madeline Mayfield and Arry Ward went out as winners in their final regular-season home match, 25-19, 16-25, 25-10, 25-16.
Mount Airy is the No. 2 seed out of the conference for the next week’s conference tournament and the state playoffs to follow. The Lady Bears (12-11 overall, 8-2 NW1A) will receive a bye in the first round of the tournament and then face either South Stokes or Winston-Salem Prep in the second round. Bishop dropped to 9-15, 3-7 and will likely be the league’s No. 4 team, depending on results from other matches.
The Villains took the early lead in each of the first two sets, only to see Mount Airy rally in both of them. However, things diverged from that point. While the Lady Bears kept rolling in set one, Bishop hit back in set two to even the match.
The visitors claimed an 8-2 lead right of the gate, with the Lady Bears making errors right and left. But Hannah Williams got her team back on track with a dink shot over the Villains’ front line for a point, and then Mount Airy started forcing Bishop to make errors. A series of strong serves by Hanne Cook helped erase most of the lead by keeping the Villains out of system. Then Ward won four out of the next six points and her team surged into the lead. Bishop held down 17-14, but then Williams scored twice attacking from the left side and the Lady Bears pulled away, leading by as many as eight points. There was a lengthy delay on set point when one of the Bishop players had a medical issue, but Ward hit a winner after the break to finish it.
Set two started out like a replay, with the Villains taking a 7-3 lead and then the Lady Bears fighting back to tie it at 9. However, Bishop’s Caroline Coyle scored a block on the Lady Bears’ Piper Draughon to get her team back on track, and the Villains went on an 8-1 run. Avery Cox got the ball back with an on-two kill, but momentum was still with the visitors, and they rolled to an east set win that ended with Shyann McDonald getting the better of Ward, who had been dominating when she was in the game.
Set three saw the Lady Bears lead 7-3 and Bishop come back to tie it. Mayfield stopped the run and then the Lady Bears ran off six straight with Brooke Lankford at the service line. Down 13-7, the Villains’ Natalie Rosenfeld had a winner, but Mount Airy scored on the next point and then Mayfield served two aces in three points to push the lead to nine. It was 19-10 when the Lady Bears got their last side-out of the set and Hicks served it out, with Cooke slamming back an over-hit on set point.
By this time, Mount Airy was firmly in control of the match. Meredith Cox had an ace followed by a kill from Mayfield, and it was 3-1 early. The lead reached 9-2 before the Villains’ Jordan Johnson scored a kill and her team followed up with some strong play to get back within 10-5. However, the Lady Bears then won five in a row and were up 22-11 when coach Chuck Morris decided it was time to let his seniors come out of the match to a round of applause. He pulled Ward first, but the Bishop players weren’t interested in cooperating, and made one last run at Mount Airy before the Lady Bears got to 23 and Hicks left the game. Mayfield checked out on match point, but Mount Airy finally put it away right after that.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.