An injured ankle prevented North Surry’s Paige Sizemore from making an impact offensively in the early stages of this season, but Sizemore showed just how lethal she can be at the net on Tuesday night.
North Surry (4-1) swept local-rival Mount Airy (5-1) with set wins at 25-17, 25-19, 25-18 and Sizemore led the way in her first night fully back in the Lady Hounds’ rotation. The junior outside hitter led her team with 11 kills and six aces, and took over the match in the second and third sets.
“It was so good to be back. It’s been awful just sitting on the bench watching everyone else hit,” Sizemore said. “I’m glad to be back and I’m glad I got to show my potential tonight.”
A tight battle in the first set eventually turned to a blowout in favor of the Hounds. A nice run on Kayla Hicks’ serve brought Mount Airy to a 9-9 tie, but from then on North Surry dominated, including a 10-3 run to register a 19-12 lead.
Serving struggles were a big theme from the Lady Bears in the first set and throughout the evening. Mount Airy committed four serving errors in the opening frame, and three kills each from Whitney Hall and Martha Holt helped power North Surry to a 25-17 win.
The Lady Bears opened the second set with good energy, and three kills from Sadie Brooks powered Mount Airy to an early 7-4 lead, but then Sizemore became a difference-maker. The lefty scored North Surry’s next four points as the Greyhounds tied the set at 8-8.
The two teams battled neck-and-neck until North Surry scored the final six points of the set to clinch a 25-19 win. Three of those points came off aces from Sizemore.
“I knew I had to get the serves over and they had to be strong to at least give us a little bit of a lead,” Sizemore said. “It was really tight at the end, and I knew it was up to me to put pressure on (Mount Airy).”
Mount Airy coach Chuck Morris implored his team to come out in the third set with a fast start, but the North Surry momentum from the final stages of the second frame rolled over into the final set and the Lady Hounds cruised to a 25-18 win. Sizemore kept her terrific play going with six kills and received some help from senior Kaylee Freed, who poured in three of her six kills and even chipped in a block to help North Surry clinch the match.
To Coach Shane Slate, one of the most impressive aspects of North Surry’s win was his team’s defense. Mount Airy struggled to find a rhythm offensively Tuesday, but even when the Lady Bears had opportunities to rifle home a kill, North Surry seemed to have the entire court covered and easily got back into system.
Senior Maggie Hawks received her first playing time this season after recovering from an injured shoulder, and recorded five digs. Her replacement so far this year, Anna Martin, started at libero and led Hounds with eight digs.
“We talked early this season that for us to be as good as we want to be, it’s going to come on the defensive end,” Slate said. “We have so many experienced passers, and we have decent height up front with our blockers, that to do those little things and get extra swings at the ball is critical for our success.”
Mount Airy’s undefeated start to the season came to an end on Tuesday, and Coach Morris was wary of his team’s performance after a sloppy ending to its 3-1 victory over Starmount on Monday. The Lady Bears will look to bounce back Thursday in their conference opener against Atkins.
“We just didn’t want it enough tonight,” Morris said. “When you play against your big rival and don’t show any kind of heart, that’s pretty concerning.”
North Surry will try to keep the good times rolling on Wednesday with a home match against Starmount.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16