WINSTON-SALEM — A road doubleheader slowed down the Salem College volleyball team, but not before the Spirits had set a school record by winning six consecutive matches during the second half of September and briefly moving into a tie for first place in the USA South Conference.
Salem, whose roster features freshmen Maggie Hawks (North Surry), Cameron Sloop (East Surry, Corrin Shores (Elkin) and Grayce Goins (Surry Central), along with sophomores Taylor Moulton (South Stokes) and Hannah Delcamp (West Stokes) embarked on their record-setting winning streak on Sept. 16, when Salem (12-6, 4-2 USA South) hosted Agnes Scott College and Johnson & Wales University in a Saturday double-header at the Spirit Center. The first match of the streak, against ASC, was the toughest, as Salem had to come back from a 2-1 deficit by winning the last two sets. Down 15-14 in set four and facing defeat, the Spirits ran off six straight points to take the lead. After ASC rallied with two straight of its own, Sloop put Salem firmly in control with back-to-back kills, one off an assist from Delcamp. In the fifth set, Salem trailed 12-11, but ralled to win set five and the match 15-13.
The team’s Stokes connection did much of the damage, as Delcamp had 42 assists and Moulton scored 13 kills. Moulton had 11 more in the nightcap that day, when Salem swept J&W in a match where Hawks had 23 kills.
Five days later, the Spirits hosted Methodist in their conference opener and won the last two sets for a 3-1 win. Hawks had 43 digs in this match, while Delcamp was credited with 25 assists.
The next afternoon, Sept. 22, Salem was at Everett Gym on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, where it beat Ferrum (3-1) and then the host school (3-0), extending its winning streak to five. Salem lost the opening set against Ferrum, a team that had struggled this season with just one win, but dominated the last three sets and then swept the Lady Bishops as well.
Against Ferrum, Hawks led the Spirits with 26 digs, while Delcamp had 22 assists and Sloop tallied five kills. Moulton had seven kills and 20 digs. Hawks had 21 digs and Moulton nine kills and 13 digs against Wesleyan.
The winning streak hit six on Sept. 26, when Salem traveled to Mary Baldwin and won easily in three sets. Shores had one of her best matches of the season and posted nine digs and three aces. Delcamp had seven digs and 16 assists, while Goins had five digs and an ace.
The streak finally ended when Salem traveled to Danville, Va. on Saturday and lost to conference rivals Meredith and Averett in a tri-meet. The Spirits performed miserably on offense in the first match, with an anemic .060 kill percentage. One of the few good points was the performance of Hawks, who led the team with 20 digs. Salem actually fared better in the nightcap against defending league champion Averett, one of the top teams in the region with a mark of 17-2, 6-0 USAC. Salem was able to take a set from the Lady Cougars before falling 3-1. Delcamp led the team with 14 assists, while Hawks (26) and Moulton (15) led in digs.
Salem needs just three more wins to break the all-time school record for victories in a season. The team will look to start a new streak on Thursday evening, when Pfeiffer comes to town for a non-conference match. The meeting with Pfeiffer will bring a reunion of two former North Surry players, with Hawks’ longtime North Surry teammate Kaylee Freed starting at middle hitter for the Lady Eagles. On Saturday, Salem plays a twinbill at Greensboro College with that school and William Peace.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.