DOBSON — North Surry finished its perfect conference season, although Surry Central put up a valiant fight on Senior Night.
The Lady Greyhounds volleyball team went 16-0 in the Northwest Conference with a 3-1 win over a determined Central team honoring its three seniors: Courtney Hegler, Meagan Hutson and Brittany Lewis.
North Surry swept its first 14 conference matches by 3-0 scores. This week, however, the Hounds posted 3-1 wins over East Surry and Surry Central with each team getting 81 points, by far the most the Hounds have allowed in conference play.
In between East and Central, the Hounds lost a close 3-2 battle with Starmount, which gave North its only other loss last month.
“We had to shake off a slow start that was not unexpected because it was our third match in a row, and we were coming off a draining match with Starmount (Wednesday) night,” said North Coach Shane Slate.
The Lady Eagles jumped out to a 4-1 lead at the start, but then North answered with five straight points to take a 6-4 lead.
North was ahead 16-12 when Central ran off five straight points of their own to take a 17-16 lead.
The Hounds then put together a 9-4 spurt to win 25-21.
The Eagles again got off to a good start in the second game, taking a 5-0 lead. The Hounds answered with an 8-1 run to take the lead at 8-6.
Central responded by taking six of the next eight points for a 12-10 lead. The Eagles dropped a point on what looked like a catch and throw by an opponent. Central Coach Carrie Hutchens protested to an official, but didn’t get a call.
The Eagles pulled out to a 17-14 lead and then got a big spike that deflected off North’s Molly Martin. The girl on the back line signaled a deflection, but the head official overruled the call and gave the ball to North Surry.
The home crowd roared its disapproval, and the Eagle players seemed to get fired up. They finished off the set for a 25-21 win.
“We played very smart tonight,” said Hutchens. “We mixed up our hits and tips,” she said, and Kendra Johnson and Cassidy Joyner were great on the back line.
In the third game, North was up 9-6 when a similar spike caromed out of play. The back line girl signaled a touch, and the referee again overruled her as the Eagle players were visibly upset. Instead of closing to 9-7, the Eagles fell behind 10-6.
Rather than getting worked up this time, the Eagles dropped four more points to fall behind 14-6. North would win easily at 25-14. From the time of the referee’s call to the end of the set, North took 14 of 19 points.
North led 3-2 in the fourth set before the Eagles earned four straight points behind Joyner’s serve. The Hounds responded with seven straight points on Kristina Rumplasch’s serve for a 10-6 lead. North would stretch that to 20-12 before Hutchens called a timeout.
The Eagles put together a 6-1 run to close to 21-18, drawing a timeout from Slate.
“The loss in set two got our attention,” said Slate. “And we had a nice streak of play for set three and until we got to the 20-12 mark in set four, where we seemed to run out of gas.”
North was able to hold on for a 25-21 win to avoid a fifth set.
“This week gave me things to appreciate,” said Slate. “Such as, we have shown the most intensity of the season, and we were able to fight through some difficult situations all three days. We need to improve our offensive execution, and hopefully we can do that in practice (today).”
Hutchens said of her team, “There were a few things we could have done better, especially in the third game. We had a few too many overpasses.”
Of her three seniors, Hutchens said, “They certainly did very well tonight. I want to recognize them for having a great season and being an important part of the team. … Tonight they did an excellent job against a tough team.”
Hegler finished with 11 digs, eight kills, one block and 8-10 serving.
Hutson had a team-high 12 assists and was 14-15 serving with an ace.
Lewis had an important role, defending the net against a tall North Surry front line, according to Hutchens. She had just one kill and two blocks, but she helped in a lot of ways that don’t show up in the stats.
Johnson led the team with 19 digs, while Joyner had 15 and Kaitlin Kidd five.
Joyner led the team with 10 kills, while Kidd added five.
Kidd led with four stuff blocks, and Kelsey Taylor had three.
Joyner was Central’s top server, going 18-19 with four aces. Johnson went 8-9 with one ace.
For North Surry, Rumplasch posted a game-high 15 kills, while Malaya Johnson had 13. Bailey Culler set up the front line with 37 assists.
Malaya Johnson had seven blocks, while Erin March had four.
Taylor Hill had 15 digs, Martin 12 and Maddison Hawks 11.
At the service line, Rumplasch was 24-26 with five aces. Martin was 16-17 with an ace, and Hawks was 12-13.
In Wednesday’s late action, the Hounds dropped a close five-set match with Starmount.
The Rams won the first set, but the Hounds took two straight to take the lead. The Rams put in a dominant fourth set, then won the last 15-9.
Despite the loss, Slate said, “This match was the most fun I have had all season. We competed the hardest we have all year, and the intensity level of the match really showed in the effort we gave.”
Five players had double-digit digs, led by Hill with 21. Malaya Johnson posted 15 blocks, while Hill added eight and March seven.
“This type of hard-fought match is crucial in preparing for the postseason starting next week,” he said. “Hopefully we will use it as a springboard to get better.”
The Eagles finish the regular season 13-3 in the Northwest, having lost twice to North and split with East Surry.
The teams will take part in the Northwest Conference Tournament next week. The seedings will be determined over the weekend with a play-in game between the eighth- and ninth-place teams. Those teams are South Stokes (3-12) and Winston-Salem Prep (0-14), according to their scores reported on MaxPreps.
As the top seed, North Surry will play the winner of that match.
East Surry is second and will face either Mount Airy or Bishop McGuinness. Surry Central is the third seed and will face the other team between Mount Airy and Bishop. West Stokes and North Stokes will play each other.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.