DOBSON — Bring out the brooms. This reporter wrote that Surry Central’s win over Walkertown on October 10 completed the season sweep, with the Eagles defeating the Wolfpack in straight sets twice. The Lady Eagles decided to take it one step further when they hosted Walkertown once again in the Western Piedmont 2A Athletic Conference Tournament, sweeping their conference foe for a third time this season.
Surry Central had difficulty putting away the Wolfpack in their previous meeting. Despite winning every set against Walkertown, the Pack didn’t make it easy. The Eagles made sure to put their opponents away when they had the chance in this meeting. When Central held a 12-6 lead, instead of folding after a mistake and letting their opponent compete, they maintained their edge with strong net play.
The southpaw Jenna Simpson must have charged her arm up all afternoon, because she was like the Energizer bunny for the Eagles. Simpson ascended for kill after kill, punishing the much smaller Wolfpack squad. Taylor Coe joined the party, in what will be one of her final high school matches before moving to the collegiate level, with kills of her own.
The most impressive part of Central’s game was its ability to hold the lead, never surrendering more than a five-point differential to complete the set. Earlier in the season, coach Carrie Bruce said she wanted to see her team get better about bouncing back from bad plays. That is exactly what the Eagles did against Walkertown. A bad serve or a hit out-of-bounds didn’t deter the team from its mission to advance. Instead, Central put the pressure on Walkertown to come back from mistakes. Taylor Coe served the final five points of the set to give Surry Central a 25-14 victory.
The previous meeting of these teams saw Walkertown start each of the first two sets stronger than the Eagles. This was another improvement made by Bruce’s squad. Central continued to hammer powerful serves past (or sometimes at) the Wolfpack. Credit to Walkertown, whose players dove all over the floor to keep the ball in play. Unfortunately for the Pack, Central came to play today and kept working the visitors. Central took a 6-0 lead before the Wolfpack got on the board.
The visiting team narrowed the lead to two at 6-4, but that would be the closest the Pack would get in set number two. In addition to crushing the hopes and dreams of her opponents, Taylor Coe nearly crushed the ball through the gym floor on a kill to get the Eagles back on track. Despite Walkertown libero Calia Baker’s best efforts to bypass the front line of Surry Central, Eagles Simpson, Taylor Coe, and Karson Norman sent the ball right back where it came from.
In addition to exceptional net play, Central libero Ema Coe regulated her back line and kept rallies alive. The Eagles’ lead was a consistent seven points throughout the second set, climaxing at nine when Surry Central ended the set at 25-16.
Brooke Snow began the third set with a laser-serve that aced her opponents. Walkertown kept the match close, forcing a 3-3 tie off Surry Central service errors. When the score was 5-4 in favor of the Eagles, the front line of Central blocked the Wolfpack’s attempts to get the ball over net. With the home team up 10-5. Lillian Marshall cut the lead to two before Simpson took over and scored six straight on powerful serves. Bruce cleared the bench to finish the third set, finishing 25-12.
The Golden Eagles will face perhaps their biggest challenge in the North Surry Greyhounds in the conference semifinals. The previous two meetings between the teams heavily favored the Greyhounds, with North Surry winning 3-0 on September 12 and 3-1 on October 5. The Greyhounds sit at 23-1 overall, 12-0 in conference play. The teams do battle Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith