The Salem College volleyball team plays its home matches in Winston-Salem, but there may be times this season when the Spirits’ lineup has a decidedly Surry County feel to it.
Salem inked its third senior standout this spring on May 2, when longtime East Surry starter Cameron Sloop joined Grayce Goins of Surry Central and Maggie Hawks of North Surry as new members of the Salem program. Sloop, one of the last Lady Cardinals who played on the 2014 state runner-up team, committed to the Spirits after a season that saw her lead East Surry in kills (229) and digs (321) on a team that went 24-5, won the Northwest 1A Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and advance to the third round of the state playoffs before losing a close match to eventual state champion Community School of Davidson.
The 5’9” outside hitter, a key performer on two of the greatest volleyball teams that East Surry has ever had, was glad that the loss to CSD wasn’t the end of her career on the court.
“I always knew it was going to be sad when I had to stop playing,” said Sloop, who had offers from Guilford and Randolph along with Salem. “When this opportunity came along, I was excited. I considered Guilford and Randolph, but I liked that (Salem) is so close to home, and I already know a lot of the people that go there.”
Included in that number, of course, are Goins and Hawks.
“I know them both,” said Sloop. “I’ve played with both of them in travel ball, so it won’t be unusual to have them as teammates.”
She played three sports as a freshman at East Surry, but gave up basketball and track after the first season and concentrated on volleyball, her favorite sport. She joined the varsity squad at East Surry as a sophomore in 2014, and was a big part of the ride as the Lady Cardinals went 29-2 and reached the state championship match, where they lost an agonizing five-set barnburner against Princeton.
“I went back and watched the video of it last year,” said Sloop of the 2014 1A final, a match where East Surry outscored its opponent 108-105 but lost in five sets. “It was painful.”
The match came down to a fifth set after the Lady Cardinals had valiantly fought back from a 2-0 deficit to force a final set to 15 points, which was won 15-13 by Princeton. Even so, Sloop, who started on the front line that day and had six kills and three blocks, said it was a highlight of her time at East Surry.
Making it to the state championship in my sophomore year, with that whole group, and winning the conference and beating Mount Airy three times in my senior year were the best things,” she said.
East Surry finished 18-11 and won the Northwest Conference Tournament in her junior year, but returned to powerhouse status this past fall. Mount Airy, which won the regular season in 2015, was favored to repear and led East by one game in the standings when the teams met on Sept. 15 at East. The Lady Cardinals won the match in four sets, with Sloop posting 12 kills and 11 digs. They went on to regain the conference championship.
“Mount Airy is always the sweetest victory,” said Sloop, who added that everyone on the team got up for playing the Lady Bears.
She said she will probably major in business at Salem, but that “hopefully, I won’t change my mind.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.