PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Lady Bears advanced to the finals of the Northwest Conference Tournament, but the Lady Vikings didn’t make it easy on the higher seed.
North Stokes came into the match 10-14 on the season, but riding a three-match win streak. However, the Bears (21-4) had already beaten the Vikings 3-0 and 3-1 in their two regular-season meetings.
In the first set, North Stokes led 2-1 before Mount Airy ran off five straight points to take a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the set.
At 7-5, the Bears scored five of the next six points (including an emphatic stuff block from Madeline Mayfield that drew the first roar from the crowd) to go up 12-6, drawing a timeout from the Vikings.
North Stokes scored the next two points, but then Mount Airy went on another run, 10-1, to go up 22-9. From there the two sides scored evenly to a 25-13 set.
Despite losing that game, North Stokes had finished with taking four of the last seven points. That confidence showed in the next set as the two sides were even all the way to 11-11.
Then North Stokes scored three straight to take a lead.
Down 12-15, however, the Bears would answer with seven straight points with Kayla Hicks serving to take the lead for the first time since it was 4-3.
The Vikings didn’t quit and won three in a row to close to 19-18.
The score was 21-20 when the Bears earned the last four points for a 25-20 set.
With the Bears a point away from winning, North Stokes came out flat in the third set, falling behind 8-3 to draw a timeout from the coach. The lead then reached a high of six points at 12-6.
Then the Vikings put away six points to tie the match at 12-all. The push continued as the Vikings went up 17-14.
Mount Airy won six of the next seven points to lead 20-18, drawing the last timeout from North Stokes.
The set was tied 20-all when Chandley Garner hit a hard spike that was blocked back. North kept the ball alive, but the official mistakenly blew the play dead, saying the Vikings made four touches.
That gave Mount Airy the lead, but the Vikings came back and earned a set point at 24-23 and then at 25-24, but the Bears took the final three points — the last on a strong kill from Sadie Brooks.
Brooks finished with a team-high 15 kills to go with three blocks and two aces.
Mayfield had eight kills, two aces and seven blocks (five of them solo).
Arry Ward had five blocks (four solo).
Hicks made 18 digs and had 18 serves received with only one error.
Setter Sarah Lankford passed out 30 assists.
The Bears will face East Surry in the conference final tonight on East’s home floor.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.