PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry was out for vengeance after having its longest winning streak of the season snapped by North Surry. The Cardinals handed Bishop McGuinness its first conference loss Tuesday in a 3-0 victory.
East (9-4, 3-0) needed a strong performance Tuesday to get the memory of a 3-1 loss to North Surry out of its mind. The Lady Cardinals overcame a slow start to get their mojo back.
“I thought tonight was much better than last night, but it all started with ball control,” said Cardinal coach Caleb Gilley. “I thought we did a much better job tonight serving and a much better job tonight controlling the first contact, serve receiving and defensively, and then it kinda led to us having a good offense.”
The Cardinals, ranked ninth in the state in 1A, now have three conference wins against top-25 teams. The Cards defeated No. 13 South Stokes and No. 22 North Stokes last week, and then No. 17 Bishop was next on the list.
The match began with Bishop taking a 6-2 lead. The combination of hitting the ball long and early service errors by East put the Villains ahead. Allie Bruner had the first kill for the Cards, but it wasn’t enough to get them going.
A kill from Bishop’s Adanna Aham-Iroetugo made it 14-6 for the Villains. This is when a switch flipped for the Cardinals. Kylie Bruner began serving and did so four times. The Villains couldn’t return Kylie’s serves, bringing the Cardinals back into the match. A 7-2 run by East Surry led to a Bishop timeout.
The Villains still led 16-14, and hadn’t trailed all set. Shyann McDonald ended the Cardinals’ run with a kill, but East kept fighting. Emma Brown, one of just two Cardinals to get two blocks in Tuesday’s match, had a block and subsequent kill to cut the lead to just one. A kill from Smith gave the Lady Cards their first lead of the night.
Gilley called a timeout after Bishop jumped ahead 21-19. The Villains then went ahead 23-20 out of the timeout. East fought back in long rallies to score five straight points and win the set 25-23.
The Cardinals carried momentum from the first set to go up 7-2. Smith’s serves couldn’t be returned on five attempts in a row. Smith led the Cardinals with 19 service attempts and tied with Ally McCraw for the most aces (4).
The Villains were the victims of short rallies ended by team errors. Bishop only won points on their own serve twice in the second set. East Surry led 14-7 before going on an 11-2 run to win the set 25-9.
The third set was a tale of two halves. The first half featured longer rallies and close margins. The second, not so much.
Allie Bruner and Maggie Holt started the set with kills to put East up 3-0. Cardinal miscommunication allowed Bishop to come back and take a 6-4 lead.
Allie Bruner, the Cards’ leader in kills on the season, played an important role on the back line in the third set. Bruner had two diving saves that set up Smith for a kill that tied the set 7-7. Allie finished with 18 digs in the match in addition to her 13 kills.
Smith’s kill prompted a five-point swing for East Surry behind Leah Hayes’ serving. The Cards pulled ahead 13-8 before Bishop closed the gap on a four-point streak. Holt stepped in with a kill to prevent Bishop from taking the lead and putting the Cardinals ahead 14-12.
It was the beginning of the end when Jessica Clayton stepped up to the service line. Clayton serving put East up 19-13 before she committed her only service error of the night. Bishop’s McDonald impressed with a serve of her own, but it was too little, too late for the Villains.
McCraw served East Surry to a 24-15 advantage before a service error gave the Villains one last chance. Bishop managed to get to 17 before East Surry scored the winning point.
East Surry continues conference play when by hosting Mount Airy (6-6, 2-1) on Thursday. The Villains also return to action Thursday and will host South Stokes (14-3, 3-1).
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith