Mount Airy’s volleyball team won’t be bumping, setting or spiking in anger for about a month yet, but the Lady Bears are already gearing up for their upcoming season.
The team, which is trying to reload from heavy graduation losses and make it to the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, hosted its annual Lady Bears Volleyball Camp on Monday through Wednesday of this week, and then had Surry Central, Davie County and West Forsyth drop by Howard Finch Gym on Thursday for a scrimmage session in which all four teams faced the other three.
All four schools have a strong following in volleyball, and the scrimmage session, which was open to the public, was well-attended.
“All in all, it was a really good experience for us,” said Mount Airy head coach Chuck Morris. “We had a great turnout and we got to play some good teams. You have to play strong teams to get better, and I think we did that on Thursday.”
The Lady Bears opened up with Surry Central, then placed 4A powerhouse Davie County, and finished up with another strong 4A program, West Forsyth. All four schools brought their full rosters, which they divided into the players likely to be on the varsity team this fall and those likely to play on the JV team. The prospective varsity players played for 30 minutes and then the the JV’s played for 25. This was run as a teaching and learning experience for the players, and scores weren’t kept.
Morris liked the way his team played against Central, another team that needs to replace some important pieces from last year’s team. He said that a number of the Lady Eagles were also members of his Granite City travel team, making the scrimmage a reunion of sorts.
Davie was a different story. The War Eagles were one of the best teams in the state a year ago, and still have a lot of the players from that squad back.
“They taught us a few lessons about ourselves,” said Morris. “We’re going to be small this year, and we learned a lot of about how we’re going to have to play against a team with a lot of size, like Davie. They have several kids who just got back from the AAU Jr. Nationals in Orlando, and they thumped us pretty good.”
West Forsyth was another quality opponent, but not quite as imposing as Davie, and Morris felt his team held its own against the Titans.
This was the first of four scrimmages that the Lady Bears will be competing in during July. Next week is a “dead period” in which no practices or scrimmages are permitted, but on July 24, Central and Davie will be back in town, joined by Bishop McGuinness, for another four-team session at Mount Airy. The next day, the team will travel to Sparta and scrimmage Alleghany and two other teams. On the 26th, the Lady Bears will be back at Howard Finch Gym, this time to scrimmage Wilkes Central, North Stokes and West Stokes.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.