PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry volleyball is finding its groove at just the right point in the 2018 season.
The Cardinals (12-4, 4-0) defeated West Stokes 3-0 Wednesday for their eighth three-set victory of the season. Since falling to North Surry on September 17, the Lady Cards have defeated four straight opponents without surrendering a single set.
In what has been an interesting season thus far, West Stokes (6-12, 5-3) entered Wednesday’s match riding its longest winning streak of the season. The three-game streak included two 3-0 victories.
West came out in the first set looking as if they might just pull off the upset. East Surry regrouped and played with a greater sense of urgency in the second and third sets.
The Wildcats took an early 3-2 lead off two kills from Blakeleigh Goldbach. After East led 5-3, Alyssa Custer served the Cats to a 9-5 advantage. East Surry kept making small mistakes that cost them valuable points.
A kill from East’s Maggie Holt ended West’s run. Holt helped the Cardinals tie the set at 9-9 with a series of defensive net plays. Anna Bates responded on behalf of the Wildcats with a block of her own.
The true gamechanger of the set was serving. Kylie Bruner served five straight for the Cardinals to regain the lead. Even after a service error, the Cardinals won back the serve, setting up Morgan Smith for a pair of aces that led to a West timeout.
The lead went back-and-forth until the teams reached a 21-21 tie. East’s resiliency showed on the next play as Anna-Kate Badgett dove for a ball, only for Ally McCraw to dive for the next hit, followed by an off-balance attack from Kylie Bruner that put the Cardinals up 22-21.
East lost the serve on set point, allowing West to come within a point of another tie. However, a service error from the Wildcats ended the first set, with East taking the 25-23 win.
Something changed between the first and second sets. Whether it was deflation on the Wildcats’ part or a new attitude for East, the next two sets were not nearly as close as the first.
The scores went back-and-forth until a Holt solo block made it 7-7. Kylie Bruner’s serves made it difficult for West Stokes to mount an offense. Madison Upchurch had a kill to end the Cards’ run, but by that point the score was 13-8.
Allie Bruner joined the attacking party with kills of her own. Allie went on to lead the Cardinals with 28 attacks. She also had great success at the service line.
The scoreboard read 18-13 in the Cardinals’ favor when Allie Bruner was up to serve. The junior proceeded to serve up three aces while increasing East Surry’s lead to 24-13. The Cats were able to get one final point in before East won the second set 25-14.
Both of the first two sets started off relatively close. The third, not so much. West Stokes won the first point, but gave up the next six. Anna Bates and Goldbach each had a kill to make it 6-3, but it was nullified when East scored four more.
Allie Bruner once again couldn’t be stopped at the service line. Allie extended the lead to 14-5 and only left when she committed a service error. Maggie Holt added in some of her nine total blocks as icing on the cake as the Cardinals coasted to a 25-11 victory.
The Cardinals resume conference play this evening against South Stokes (14-3, 3-1). West Stokes will face another tall task when they travel to North Surry on October 2.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith