The Lady Bears played close throughout, but fell 3-1 to South Stokes in the volleyball season opener.
Mount Airy had a late lead in game three, but couldn’t close out with a win. Then the team made a strong comeback in game four to get within a single point, but then gave up seven straight points to trail 22-14.
“We had some little lapses of concentration here and there,” admitted new coach Chuck Morris. “The killer was giving up seven points in a row in the fourth game.”
“We weren’t fully prepared to play all the way through, and I take full responsibility for that,” he said.
Morris, who is also a certified referee, coached Junior Olympics volleyball for 29 years before joining the Mount Airy staff.
He takes the place of Kim Lyons, who has stepped back from her duties as her family expands. She and North Surry football coach Danny Lyons are expecting their second child in December. She watched the opener from the concession stand, showing her support.
After the Lady Sauras took the first set 25-18, the Bears bounced back with a fast start in the second game.
With Tessa Rodgers serving, the home team jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
After a timeout, the Sauras came back with a run of their own, scoring 10 of the next 11 points for a 10-7 lead.
South Stokes was ahead 16-10 when Jasmine Varney’s serve helped the Bears claw back to tie the game. From there, the two battled back and forth on every point.
The Sauras held a game point at 24-23 when Kathryn Beasley’s pass went so high it passed through the rafters to Rodgers. Varney then took Rodgers’ set and put the point away to tie the game. The Bears finally clawed out a 28-26 win.
In the third game, the Sauras would pull ahead by a point or two, but the Bears kept coming back.
South Stokes led 13-11 when the Bears went on an 8-2 run to take the lead at 19-15.
However the visiting team responded with a 9-2 run to retake the lead at 24-21 before winning 25-22.
The loss seemed to create a hangover as the Bears dropped the first five points of the fourth game.
Down 9-2, Morris called a timeout. Mount Airy fought back to 15-14, but the 7-0 run led to a 25-17 victory for the Sauras.
“South Stokes played pretty well,” he said. “We couldn’t stop some of those runs.”
“We’re a pretty young team,” he noted, with three sophomores and two freshmen in the nine-man rotation. Plus, they are learning a new system from a coach whose philosophies are a little different from what they are used to, he said.
The players are still working at understanding that they have to play every moment of every point, he said, but they are getting better overall every time they step on the floor.
The roster includes seniors Beasley and Varney, who give the team strong serving and outside hitting.
Rodgers is a junior who played varsity last year. She can play multiple spots.
Another returning junior is out with a strained calf muscle. Charli Hiatt is a defensive specialist who played libero last year. Sophomore Skylar Flippen played libero on Tuesday.
Autumn Mason is a junior who moved up from JV this year.
Sophomore Abby Harold played on the varsity front line last year. She will be joined by newcomer Amy Kunkel, another sophomore.
The two freshmen are Meghan Fleming and Sarah Lankford.
Another player who would have been on the squad, Lily Smith, is out for the season with a torn ACL. She will have surgery soon.
The Bears travel to Alleghany today, then they travel to rival Surry Central on Thursday.
In JV action, the Bears won 25-10, 25-9.