While the showdown between North Surry and East Surry around lunchtime was the highlight of Saturday’s Rivals United volleyball showcase at Mount Airy High School, it was just one of five matches contested in the day-long event.
Both the host school and Surry Central were also competing in the event, and the Lady Bears, who will host East Surry for the outright regular-season title in the Northwest 1A Conference on Tuesday evening, were also eager to measure themselves against North Surry in the final match of the showcase.
For a while, it looked like Mount Airy would follow in their conference rivals’ footsteps and take the Lady Greyhounds to the limit. The Lady Bears (17-3), who had beaten Surry Central 25-19, 25-16, 19-25, 25-17 in their first match on Saturday, split the first two sets with North Surry. The Lady Hounds finished the first set strong for a 25-19 win, but Mount Airy received outstanding play at the net from Madeline Mayfield, Arry Ward and Sadie Brooks in set two, prevailing 25-20. However, the Lady Bears faded badly and North Surry came on strong in the final two sets of the match, taking a 25-19, 20-25, 25-9, 25-9 victory that improved them to 16-4 on the season.
In between the two matches involving Mount Airy, the East Surry and Surry Central junior varsity teams played one another, and the JV Lady Cardinals won to stay undefeated this season.
North Surry 3, Mount Airy 1
This showdown between the No. 5 team in the 2A ranks and the No. 7 team in the 1A lived up to its billing for two sets. In set one, Brooks played brilliantly for the Lady Bears in the early going, keeping them neck-and-neck with North Surry deep into the set. Mount Airy tied the set at 17 when Ward scored a block on the Lady Hounds’ Mikaela Johnson, but Johnson put her team in front for good with a dunk shot of an over-hit ball followed by a block. The Lady Bears scored seven of the final eight points in the set.
In set two, the teams again traded blows. In the middle part of the match, it was a battle between North’s Paige Sizemore and Mayfield for five consecutive points, before the Lady Bears finally gained some distance thanks to setter Sarah Lankford scoring off an on-two play. When Ward blocked Johnson on the next point, the Lady Bears had a 19-16 advantage. North Surry never got any closer the rest of the set, and Jessica Bevard scored a kill off Johnson to win the set by five points.
The Lady Hounds won the first three points in each of the final two sets and were never challenged in either one.
Mount Airy 3, Surry Central 1
Set one of this match was a battle between Brooks and Surry Central junior Taylor Coe, who, along with Tara Blevins, provided much of her team’s offense in the two matches played by the Lady Eagles on Saturday. However, the Lady Bears did a better job on the defensive end and of getting the ball to their big hitter, and the host team scored four of the final five points to win the set 25-19.
Set two saw Mount Airy jump to a quick 8-1 lead and never look back. The teams traded points for a time, but then Lankford served back-to-back aces and made it 17-8 in favor of the Lady Bears. The teams played out the string from there and Mount Airy took a 2-0 lead.
In set three, the Lady Eagles built an 8-5 lead, only to see it evaporate when Mayfield alternated kills with service aces by Lianna Beckam to give their team a 12-8 lead. Central’s Brooke Snow ended the run with a kill of her own, but the Lady Bears clung to a lead of a point or two until Brooks put a ball into the net to tie the score at 17. Coe followed with a kill of her own and then Sarah Ford served an ace to put Central ahead 19-17. A net violation on Mount Airy and a Karson Norman kill made it 21-17. Mayfield powered a ball through Norman and Coe for a point and then Brooks served an ace, but Blevins scored for the Lady Eagles and they rolled to the set win, finishing up with an ace by Coe.
The Lady Eagles led 5-3 in set four, but then the Lady Bears went on a roll, scoring six of the next eight, broken only by two Coe kills. Jenna Simpson answered by overpowering a Lady Bear at the net and then Ford served an ace for a 10-9 Central lead, but the rest of the set was all Mount Airy.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.