PILOT MOUNTAIN — Bring on the Lady Bears.
There was no question that East Surry would emerge victorious in its fourth match of the Northwest 1A Conference season on Tuesday afternoon. The visitors from Winston-Salem Prep have struggled for several years to get a program established, during which time the Lady Cardinals have hung several championship banners of different types.
“We just took this game as a chance to work on some things and clean up some stuff, some spot serving and things like that,” said coach Caleb Gilley.
The match went as expected, with East Surry (11-3, 3-1 NWC) going on several long runs, serving 45 aces, and rolling to a 25-3, 25-3, 25-5 victory over the Phoenix (0-5). It was the fourth straight victory for the Lady Cardinals, all of them by 3-0 margins.
Perhaps most importantly, although no one with the team was discussing it, the win sends East Surry into Thursday’s showdown with Mount Airy on a high note. The Lady Bears, currently 10-1, 4-0 in conference play and ranked fifth in the latest MaxPreps.com 1A power ratings, were favored in the preseason to repeat as NWC champs, with East Surry in second. The first of two regular-season meetings will occur in Pilot Mountain.
But first things first, and no matter how much the Lady Cardinals were favored to beat Prep, they still had to get it done on the court. They proved to be focused and dispatched the Phoenix in less than an hour.
In set one, Bethany Clayton and Kendall Beck both went on long runs, serving point after point for the home team, including several service aces. Most of the time, the inexperienced Prep team was unable to even return the ball following the serve, and East Surry was seemingly surprised a few times when the Phoenix actually did. However, Maggie Holt was spot-on for the Lady Cardinals up front, twice scoring kills when Prep set the ball over the net. Two of the Phoenix’ three points in set one came on service errors.
Set two wasn’t any better if you were a Winston-Salem Prep fan. The Phoenix actually did successfully receive serve a few times early on, and even scored a kill in what was a 6-3 set after a kill by Cameron Sloop sent teammate Grace Kiser to the service line for East Surry.
That was all she wrote for Prep. Kiser, who did not commit a single service error in the match, served 19 consecutive points for the Lady Cardinals, including 13 aces, in a second straight 25-3 win.
In set three, Gilley used a different combination of players than he normally does, and it took East Surry a few points to settle in. The Phoenix scored the first two points of the set, but then the Lady Cardinals got a side-out and Holt served them to a 12-2 lead before Prep ended the run on a serve that went just a little too long. With the lead at 14-4, the coach rotated Kiser back into the game and she served off six in a row before the Phoenix scored again. However, that was just a blip on the radar before Beck served out the match.
Gilley gave every available player extensive playing time, and the only one to reach double figures was Kiser, who eventually racked up 17 aces. Holt had four kills and eight aces, Chelsea Tucker four aces and six assists, Clayton an ace and seven assists, Beck three kills and seven aces, Sarah Marion three kills and five aces, Morgan Smith two aces, Sloop three kills, Allie Bruner two kills and Elise Hayes had a kill and an ace.