Shane Slate’s Lady Greyhounds have been the big dogs of the county for nearly a decade. Although the team has faced some trials and tribulations in 2018, North Surry defended its home turf against a strong East Surry squad with a 3-1 victory.
“As far as tonight, of course we like to get a county win and struggled last week,” Slate said.” I told them (the Lady Hounds) this is an opportunity to get yourself on a streak. I’m not talking about a winning streak, I’m talking about playing at a high level instead of up-and-down stuff, and sets two, three, and four I thought we did that.”
The parity of volleyball in Surry County has through the roof this season. Look no further than the first North-East meeting. The Greyhounds led 2-0 before dropping three straight sets.
“We’ve just been so up and down and can play well for a set or two sets, and then shoot ourselves in the foot and can’t overcome the other team getting some momentum,” Slate said. “Talking to coach (Caleb) Gilley and some other coaches there has been a lot of that volleyball this year in that area.”
It took a while for the teams to get going in the first set on Monday. Service errors and hits into the net saw both the Hounds and Cards giving away points. Kills from Camille Cartwright and Evann Shelnutt lifted North Surry to a 9-6 lead.
An assisted block from Maggie Holt and Ally McCraw gave East possession at 9-7. The combination of Morgan Smith’s serving and the Cards’ front line play allowed East to go on a 7-point run to make it 14-9. Even after the Hounds stopped the run, Kylie Bruner put East back on track with a strong serving performance.
East Surry would take a 24-15 lead. North managed to score three more times in the set, but an error cost them. East took a 25-18 win to go up 1-0 in the match.
Something changed for North Surry between the first and second sets. Cartwright was all over the court for the Hounds. On one play, she had one of her 15 kills, and then followed it up with a service ace. Emma Haynes and Hannah Moxley held down the front line and forced East Surry to make mistakes.
North led 10-5 when East Surry called a timeout. The Cardinals just couldn’t seem to stop the runaway train that was North Surry. The lead then became 15-6, 21-9, and finally 25-10 as the Hounds tied the set score 1-1.
“The biggest difference tonight was first-ball contact,” Slate said. “That’s the whole key to volleyball, is first-ball contact. Can you get in system and can you put pressure on the other team with your offense, and we did.”
East Surry kept the third set closer, but couldn’t keep the Hounds grounded. An attack from Smith gave the Cards their only lead of the set at 1-0. By minimizing unforced errors, North put that pressure on East to perform.
Michaela Stone had back-to-back service aces as the Hounds to a 6-4 advantage. Slowly but surely the Greyhound lead built. For every point East got, North got two.
North led 18-12 when East Surry made a last-ditch effort to come back. Behind Leah Hayes’ serving, the Lady Cards cut the lead to 18-16. Jessi Shellnut ended the run with a kill and added another for good measure. The Cardinals deflated, and dropped the third set 25-18.
The Cardinals rallied in the fourth set but never could take the lead. Holt and Allie Bruner kept the team fighting. Once again, though, North Surry minimized mistakes. Moxley once made a backwards, one-handed save to keep a rally alive that Haynes would finish.
North maintained a five- to six-point lead throughout the set. East tried all different kinds of attacks, but nothing seemed to be a long-term solution as the Hounds went on to win the fourth and final set 25-17.
The loss drops East Surry to 8-4 on the season and snaps a four-game winning streak, its longest of the season. The Cardinals resume conference play tonight against Bishop McGuinness.
North Surry improves to 8-6 on the season and will host Davie tonight.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith