PILOT MOUNTAIN — Early deficits didn’t derail the North Surry volleyball team on Tuesday night, as the Lady Hounds swept aside their rivals from East Surry.
North Surry fell behind by five points in each of the first two sets’ beginning stages, but rallied for a 25-18 win in the first and a 25-22 win in the second. The Lady Cardinals couldn’t muster enough energy in the third set after letting two leads slip away, and North Surry rolled to a 25-17 win to close things out.
This was the Lady Hounds’ first match since losing a 3-0 decision to Watauga on Thursday, and they bounced back in style on Tuesday.
“The girls know that with our preseason schedule, we’re going to find some teams that put pressure on us,” North Surry coach Shane Slate said. “I hate losses, but as long as we take it and learn from it, I’ll be okay. Tonight, we saw some progress and we’re getting closer.”
East Surry capitalized on a sloppy beginning to the first set that included a combined four service errors with three kills from Alyssa Jessup to jump out to a 9-4 lead. North Surry came roaring back with a 6-1 run to tie the match at 10.
From there, the Lady Hounds controlled the set. Arin Bunker helped spur North Surry to a four-point run on her serve and Mikaela Johnson recorded four kills to put East Surry away. A soft tap from Johnson found the floor for the final point of the set.
Johnson is North Surry’s most potent offensive weapon this season, but the Lady Hounds received huge contributions from Bunker, Kaylee Freed and Whitney Hall over the final two sets. Bunker led the way with nine kills in the match.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about from the beginning. We’re going to be successful because everybody does their part,” Slate said. “We’ve had some kids step up, and it’s great to have Bunker as a utility player because I can play her on either side.
The teams went back-and-forth to start the second set, but East Surry earned some separation thanks to some nice play from Sarah Marion, who provided an ace and three kills in the frame. However, North Surry once again responded to the challenge.
With East Surry holding a 21-20 lead, the Lady Hounds looked like they tied the set off a block, but the referees couldn’t agree on the call and elected to replay the point. North Surry was frustrated, but that frustration lasted a brief moment as Bunker slammed a kill to officially tie the set and give her team a momentum boost.
Back-to-back aces from Hall gave North Surry the final spark it needed to close out the set and throw a dagger into East Surry’s comeback hopes.
“We talked about it at the end of set two. We wanted to come out with some energy and get the first couple of points. We failed to do it,” East Surry coach Caleb Gilley said.
The lack of energy from East Surry was apparent right away, as North Surry scored the first five points of the final set and never looked back. The Hounds led by nine points on three different occasions before finishing the match with a 25-17 victory.
Slate was very impressed with his team’s defense and passing on Tuesday. Dixie Fulk dished out 24 assists and was constantly receiving crisp passes from the back row of Anna Martin and Paige Sizemore.
“That’s the whole key to volleyball. If the first contact can get you to stay in system, you’re going to have a successful offense,” Slate said.
East Surry received mixed performances throughout its lineup, but senior Cameron Sloop once again led the Lady Cardinals with seven kills.
The Lady Hounds will look to stay in the win column on Thursday when they host Alleghany. East Surry gets its next chance at a bounce back performance on Wednesday, when the Lady Cardinals travel to North Wilkes.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16