Playing the North Surry Greyhounds inside Ron King Gym is like fighting a bulldozer while blindfolded. The Hounds only surrendered three sets this season at home; two versus East Surry in the season opener and one to Surry Central less than two weeks ago. When the Eagles returned to Toast on Tuesday, the Greyhounds made sure to complete the sweep on their way to a spot in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference championship match.
The first play of the match would be indicative of the sets to follow. Mikaela Johnson took a set from Dixie Fulk and hammered it through the Surry Central blockers to give the Hounds the point. Taylor Coe responded for the Eagles with a kill of her own. The teams traded points until the score read 6-4, at which point the Greyhounds took over.
Miscommunication by Eagle players extended the North Surry lead to 9-4. The southpaw Paige Sizemore pummelled the ball on three straight points to put the Hounds up 12-4 and forcing Central coach Carrie Bruce to call a timeout. The rally coming out of the timeout saw the Eagles competing, but coming up short of winning the point.
Martha Holt began serving at 6-4 and didn’t stop until the end of the set. Holt had an astounding 23 serve attempts in the match. Equally as impressive of a stat was that despite taking nearly one-third of the team’s serves, Holt didn’t commit a single service error. As Holt continued to send serves over the net, Sizemore and Johnson would crush any ball that dared make its way back over to the North Surry side. Jenna Simpson and Tara Blevins weren’t able to block their opponent’s spikes as the Greyhounds took the first set 25-4.
Taylor Coe decided she didn’t she wasn’t quite ready for her tournament to end, and went on a tear to start the second set. She smacked the ball as if it insulted her family and quickly gave the Eagles more points than in the entire first set. Leading 5-2, Central played with a new ferocity to get back in the match.
“When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” Ralph Waldo Emerson famously penned this line more than 100 years ago, yet it applies perfectly to the situation that Surry Central was presented with. Now leading the Greyhounds, Surry Central tried to keep the pressure on North Surry and get them off their game. This task was much easier said than done, as the Hounds turned a 3-6 deficit into a 10-7 advantage. Shane Slate’s squad refocused and took control of the match, much to the chagrin of Surry Central.
Even when the Eagles forced a long rally by hitting all over the court, North Surry seldom found themselves out of position. Evann Shelnutt was the security blanket for the Greyhounds by directing traffic and diving to keep the ball in play. The Greyhound lead increased to 15-9 before Bruce called a timeout.
Johnson and Sizemore continued pounding the ball at Surry Central and blocking any attempts at retaliation. The two combined for 50 percent of the Hounds’ kills in the match. North Surry went on a 7-1 run following the first Central timeout to put the Hounds up 22-10. Central fought back with strong play from Karson Norman but it was too little too late. North took set number two 25-13.
Fulk served the Hounds to a 4-0 start in the third set. Both Taylor and Ema Coe fought to keep the Eagles in the fight, but struggled against the front line of North Surry. The Hounds ran away with the lead, extending it to 10-2 and then 14-4. The Greyhounds weren’t putting the Eagles away quickly like in the first set, but the Hounds played meticulously and kept mistakes to a minimum.
With the outcome all but official, Slate subbed in Karlie Marion and Natalie Eaton for the final set. Central seemed deflated, but didn’t stop competing until the final whistle. The Eagles cut away at the lead before North Surry finished the job. The Hounds completed the sweep and booked their spot in the conference championship with a 25-17 victory.
The Greyhounds learned of their opponents later in the evening when Forbush defeated West Stokes 3-1 to advance to the WPAC Championship. The Falcons fell short against the Greyhounds in their two meetings this season, losing 3-1 at home and 3-0 at North Surry. The WPAC Championship game takes place at North Surry tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith