HAYS — North Surry is a better volleyball team than North Wilkes. Just not by much.
The Lady Greyhounds reprised their five-set regular-season victory over the Lady Vikings on Saturday evening in the third round of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs, outlasting the Mountain Valley Conference champions 25-12, 25-13, 23-25, 19-25, 15-13 to earn their 25th victory of the season and reach the elite eight of the postseason tournament.
With the win, North Surry (25-4) advances to a showdown with MaxPreps.com’s top-ranked team in the 2A ranks, Wheatmore High School. The Lady Warriors (26-0) will host the Lady Hounds on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for one spot in the 2A West Regional final. Wheatmore has beaten Bandys, Polk County and Brevard in the first three rounds of the tournament.
The Lady Hounds had reason to expect a challenge on Saturday. These teams met just once during the regular season, and it took North Surry five sets to win that one even though they routed the Lady Vikings 25-8 in the first set. North Wilkes (21-6) rallied that day to win the second and fourth sets in the Ron King Gym before North came on strong and won the fifth set handily.
The rematch saw the Lady Hounds pummel their hosts in the first two sets and come close to putting it away in the third, but then lose the momentum and have to outlast North Wilkes in set five in order to advance.
Some of North’s key players had off-nights on Saturday, but not junior Paige Sizemore, who had 21 kills, 18 digs and five aces from her outside hitter position. Sizemore accounted for more than half of her team’s kills. The only other player to reach double figures was Whitney Hall, with 10. Martha Holt (6) and Kaylee Freed (4) were the only other players to have a kill. Dixie Fulk assisted on 33 of the team’s 41 kills.
The digs were once again distributed throughout the lineup, with Maggie Hawks matching Sizemore’s 18 for the team lead. Anna Martin and Fulk each had 10. Freed led the team with five blocks.
With North Surry ranked No. 5 in the 2A ranks, this is the first matchup of teams ranked in the top five involving an area team this fall. The teams have no common opponents, but do have one thing in common — neither has lost to a 2A team all season. All four of the Lady Hounds’ losses were against 4A teams.