PILOT MOUNTAIN — The East Surry volleyball team used an attacking mentality and a ferocious serve game to defeat Wilkes Central on Monday in straight sets.
In total, the Lady Cardinals (3-1) racked up 14 aces as they cruised to their second consecutive victory.
“I thought tonight we came out and looked really good, but in the second and third set we became sloppy,” East coach Caleb Gilley said. “But, we cleaned it up when we needed to and got the win.”
The first set was an easy ride for East Surry. The Cardinals led the entire way, and they finished off the Lady Eagles 25-15 in the opener.
However, things got shaky for Gilley and the Cardinals in the next two sets. Despite the sweep, East Surry struggled at times and allowed the Wildcats (0-3) to stay within striking distance.
Wilkes Central jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second set before the Cardinals rallied back. They eventually tied it at 10, and from this point it was a tight contest. Neither team led by more than two points until East Surry gained a 24-21 lead late in the set.
The Cardinals eventually escaped with a 25-22 victory.
“I think we’re young, and with sophomores and some juniors who are inexperienced, they think they’ve got the first set won and it’s easy from that point on,” Gilley said. “Hopefully we keep learning that we have to keep our focus up the entire match.”
East Surry once again fell behind in the third set when the Wildcats quickly gained a 4-0 advantage. The Cardinals immediately bounced back though, and tied the set at five.
Coach Gilley’s most dominant server throughout Monday’s match was Alyssa Jessup, and the sophomore propelled East Surry in the final set.
With the Cardinals leading 14-12, Jessup stepped to the back line and started a six-point rally that stretched their lead to eight points. East Surry wobbled down the stretch, but behind Jessup it clinched the final set and the match with a 25-21 victory.
“The serve helps us tremendously defensively,” Gilley said. “We have a lot of different servers who can serve floaters, top-spin, and they can place it. Our goal is to take teams out of system with the serve, and when we can take teams out of system, it makes our job a lot easier.”
Jessup finished the match with seven aces and also played solid defense for the Cardinals, chipping in 10 digs.
“I thought my top spin was working really well and they were having a hard time returning it,” Jessup said. “When I went back there I wanted to continue to keep them in.”
Sydney Marion remains sidelined with an ankle injury, meaning the Cardinals have to rely on a variety of players for points at the net.
Bethany Clayton led East Surry in kills for the second-straight match. The sophomore launched nine kills and two aces while also supplying her teammates with nine assists.
Behind Clayton, Tara Beck recorded seven kills for East Surry. Jessup, Sarah Marion and Cameron Sloop all provided at least three kills as well.
The Cards will be back in action on Tuesday at home against Surry Central.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16