PILOT MOUNTAIN — If East Surry could have picked up just one more point, it might have been able to laugh off a sloppy performance against Alleghany.
Alas, they couldn’t get that last point, and when Monday’s non-conference volleyball match came to an end, it was the visiting Trojans who were doing the celebrating.
The Lady Cardinals (4-3) had overcome numerous unforced errors and come from behind in set five to serve for the match at 14-13, but Ally McCraw’s attempt at a match-winning kill was rejected by Alleghany’s Chloe Pruitt, tying the set at 14 and swinging momentum in the Trojans’ favor one final time. Alleghany’s Kenzi Lyall hit winners on each of the next two points, and it was the Trojans who walked out of the gym as winners.
Alleghany (2-2) rallied to win the first set of the match after trailing by five points early on, and it was just the first of many swings in a match that eventually ended up as a highly entertaining 25-23, 22-25, 15-25, 25-19, 16-14 victory for the visitors, who were outscored by three points over the course of the match but managed to bunch their points together for the victory.
The Lady Cardinals came out strong and led 9-4 early on, but then the teams traded points before the Trojans ran off four in a row to tie the first set at 14. East’s Allie Bruner gave her team the lead back by blocking Alleghany’s Cameron Hawkins, but Hawkins smashed the next kill and tied it again. This sparked the Trojans on a 6-0 run of their own to seemingly take control of the set at 20-15. However, East came roaring back on strong play by Allie and Kylie Bruner to even the score at 23. Then Alleghany’s Abby Hawks hit a winner off an East blocker and the next point was an ace to take the set.
Alleghany’s first five points of set two were all as a result of unforced errors by the home team. The Trojans were ahead 9-4 before the Lady Cards finally began playing well, with Morgan Smith spiking an overset ball above the net and then serving an ace as East reduced its deficit to 10-8, then eventually tied the set at 14 before taking the lead. Down 14-13, Alleghany sophomore Taylor Allen scored a block and then her team reeled off five in a row before East coach Caleb Gilley asked for a time-out. His team won the next two points, but then killed its momentum by serving the ball into the net.
When East was good, it was good. The Lady Cardinals fought back, as Holt scored a block on Hawkins and then went back ahead 21-20. The score was tied at 22 when Allie Bruner took matters into her own hands, hitting a winner and then smashing a kill off Alleghany’s Leah Delp to earn set point, which her team converted.
Alleghany won the first three points of the third set, and then it was all East Surry. The visitors seemed to come unglued a bit when Smith hit a rocket out of bounds that the referee ruled was touched by one of the Trojans, and it was 13-6 before Lyall put a ball past Kylie Bruner to get her team going. They got as close as 14-10, but then the Lady Cardinals put it into overdrive and won the set going away.
East Surry could have won in set four, and started strong, leading 5-1 before Hawkins started a 5-0 Trojan run with a dink shot. The visitors kept charging, building a 13-9 lead on good defense and strong attacks by Allen and Lyall. Holt stopped the run for East, but then Hawkins scored a block and the lead started to widen. At one point, it was 19-12 and Gilley was asking for time. East Surry then mounted a furious rally, outscoring Alleghany 7-2 to get within 21-19 before Pruitt drilled a kill from the back line to get the visitors going again. The next three points all went to the Trojans, and so the match went the distance.
Hawkins, a 6-foot senior who has already committed to play at Surry next season, went on a roll to begin the final set. A block, a dink shot for a winner, then another block put her team on top 5-2. The Lady Cards responded, as Holt blocked Lyall and then blocked Hawkins on the next point, helping East tie the score at 5. Hawkins answered with another kill, but East didn’t back down. Holt hit a rocket past a Trojan defender and then Maddie Payne blocked Lyall. Allen swung the momentum Alleghany’s way by blocking Allie Bruner. Her team went ahead 10-8 and Gilley called time.
Out of the break, East Surry made a brilliant defensive recovery from a ball that nearly went into the seats and Kylie Bruner finished it and the next point as well. East went up by one and Alleghany coach Debbie Weaver was the one asking for time. Following the Trojans’ break, the Lady Cardinals committed a service error, tying the score at 11. But Kylie Bruner put the next one away, and then Holt won a long rally to make it 13-11. Alas, the Cardinals served the next ball into the net.
Down 12-13, Pruitt served an ace and the score — and the match — were even once more. But Smith made a kill from the outside left to give East Surry the match point it couldn’t convert.
The Lady Cardinals will travel to Starmount (3-2) today.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.