North Surry swept South Stokes 3-0 Tuesday in a matchup of top-20 teams.
The Hounds are 10-1 over the past four weeks, with the only loss coming to 4A Reagan. How good is Reagan? Out of 20 matches, not only are the Lady Raiders undefeated, ony five teams managed to take a single set.
This hot streak by the Hounds has pushed North up to 12th in MaxPreps’ ranking of 2A teams. Before this match, South Stokes was 18-3 and ranked 18th in the state.
With the win, North Surry improved to 16-7 overall and 9-0 in the Western Piedmont. With only one league match left, North has now won first place in the 2A conference.
“I am really happy that our players were able to clinch the conference championship tonight,” said coach Shane Slate. “It has been a difficult year for some of them at times and it is nice for them to be rewarded for all their hard work.”
North Surry lost conference player of the year Taylor Hill to graduation and has had difficulties finding someone who could produce that firepower on the outside.
However, the middle has been a strength with sophomores Tyra Galloway and Mikaela Johnson, and libero Maggie Hawks has been a plus both with her defense and her jump serves.
In this match, South Stokes took an early lead in two of the three sets, but couldn’t hold on.
From 2-4, the Hounds came back to tie it up 5-5. Then from 10-all, the Hounds strung together six straight points behind Arin Bunker’s serve.
South Stokes could get no closer than four in a 25-19 set.
North got to an early 6-2 lead in the next frame, but the Sauras tied the score at 7-7.
From 10-all, the Hounds crept ahead steadily to 17-12 on the way to another 25-19 set.
Saura coach Doug Balser and team captain Taylor Moulton both got onto the visiting players for dropping their heads and not playing with emotion.
The Sauras went up 5-2, but North ran off five straight behind Bunker’s serve to take the lead.
At 7-5, the longest rally of the afternoon saw North hit several strong spikes, but South Stokes kept the ball alive and eventually won the point. Rather than build momentum, however, the Sauras lost the next three points to trail 10-6.
At 19-13, another long rally ended in the Sauras’ favor, but North again rallied with four straight points on the way to a 25-17 third set.
“I like the fact we were spreading around production tonight,” said Slate. “We had a balance of players defend well, serve and attack well too. I was hoping we would be a bit more explosive, but we did not always capitalize on our opportunities.”
Galloway and Johnson led the team with seven kills, while Paige Sizemore added six. Bunker and Anna Martin had two kills each. Dixie Fulk set them up with 23 assists.
On defense, Fulk and Hawks led the team with nine digs, while Sizemore and Martin added eight each and Galloway three.
With the win, North Surry goes to 29-0 since the formation of the new 2A conference.
In 2012, the Hounds won the state 2A title. Then came the realignment that created the WPAC.
The Hounds started off slow in 2013, losing three of the first first matches. Then came a phenomenal 25-match win streak that put North into the third round of the playoffs before losing 3-2 to Lake Norman Charter.
In 2014, North again had a couple of early losses, starting off 2-2 before another big winning streak. The team was 22-1 with the lone loss to Reagan. Going into the second round of the state playoffs, the Hounds were 24-3, and two of those losses were to the Raiders.
Last year’s team was upset by Maiden, a team with a ho-hum 14-7 record going in.
As nice as this winning streak has been for the Hounds, this year’s squad knows it wants more come playoff time.
The Hounds wrap up the conference season at Forbush Thursday. Next week is the conference tournament.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.