PILOT MOUNTAIN — One could say East Surry volleyball is all about numbers right now. As in seven in a row, 21 straight and number one on the state.
The Lady Cardinals extended their winning streak to seven matches, routing visiting Ashe County 25-11, 25-4, 25-11 on Tuesday evening. With the win, East Surry (8-1 overall) extended its streak of sets won to 21, and earlier in the day, had ascended to the No. 1 spot in the MaxPreps.com 1A power ratings.
The top ranking comes with an asterisk, since defending 1A champion Community School of Davidson hasn’t yet played enough matches to be ranked, but it still demonstrates just how well the Lady Cardinals are playing at the moment.
“We’re still trying to get better but I’m pleased with where we’re at right now, for sure,” said East Surry head coach Caleb Gilley. “I thought we were clicking on all cylinders for the most part.”
Plenty of good things were in evidence against Ashe County, which started with some scrappy play and trailed just 9-7 when the Lady Cardinals really started find a rhythm. The roll started after a side-out, when sophomore setter Kelsey Heflin caught the Huskies off-guard with an on-two kill. East Surry followed that up with more finesse on the next play, when Heflin set Bethany Clayton and Ashe expected a spike attempt, only to see the senior dink it over the heads of the would-be blockers. With the score now 12-7, Heflin set Clayton again, and this time she did smash it. When Allie Bruner served an ace for the fifth straight Lady Cardinal point, the Huskies called time-out.
The visitors won the next point, but East kept pouring it on, getting the last two points on a block by Maggie Holt and a spike from Sarah Marion.
Set two was even more one-sided. Out of the first nine points, Ashe’s lone score came after Clayton mis-timed her jump when she was eager to crush an over-set ball and put it into the net. Down 8-1, the Huskies called time and won the next point, but then Clayton redeemed herself by serving 12 straight East Surry points, including two aces. The visitors finally won a point, but Marion quickly regained possession for the Lady Cardinals by crushing a ball that an Ashe back-liner couldn’t dig. Jessica Clayton served an ace to make it 23-3, and the set ended shortly thereafter.
“Our serving was really, really good, which led to them being out of system some,” Gilley said. “I thought our service defense was in system all night, which let us run our offense. When we can run our offense, we can do a lot of really good things.”
The Huskies tried to regroup in set three and were more competitive for a time, trailing just 6-4 after 10 points were contested. But senior Chelsea Tucker checked into the match and took serve, where she promptly dominated the Ashe back-liners, delivering ball after ball that the Huskies couldn’t deal with. East Surry ended up going on an 11-1 run to lead 17-5.
When Ashe finally won a point again, it started playing in system for the first time since the first set and won four out of five points, culminating in an ace by Sydney Thompson that made it 18-9. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the one they call B-Money was still on the floor for the hosts. Heflin set it on the money, and Clayton cashed it in, and for all intents and purposes this match was over.
The Lady Cardinals should get a much tougher test in their next match, which will be Thursday at 4A West Forsyth.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.