The hardware went to East Surry in this year’s Northwest 1A Conference volleyball race, but most of the individual honors went to the Lady Cardinals’ biggest rival.
Shortly after East Surry defeated Mount Airy in the conference tournament final on Wednesday night, the postseason awards ceremony was held in the Lady Cardinals’ gym, with East receiving its regular-season and conference tournament trophies, along with a second consecutive NW1A Most Outstanding Player award for junior setter Bethany Clayton.
However, the individual awards were nearly a clean sweep for the Lady Bears, who had more all-conference players (five) than any other school, and also pulled off a near-sweep of the individual honors, with senior setter Sarah Lankford named as conference Player of the Year and Lady Bears head coach Chuck Morris sharing Coach of the Year honors with East Surry’s Caleb Gilley.
The 5’10” Lankford leads Mount Airy (21-5) with 655 assists and 73 service aces this season. She is third on the team with 155 digs, fourth with 49 blocks and fifth with 104 kills. She had one of her best performances of the season in the tournament final, with 42 assists and eight kills.
A total of 15 players were selected to the all-conference team, including five from Mount Airy, four from East Surry, and three from North Stokes, the only conference team to knock off the Lady Cardinals during the season. Bishop McGuinness was represented by two players and Walkertown with one. An additional 11 players were named honorable mention all-conference, with all four of those schools represented, along with a player from Atkins High School.
For East Surry, the state’s seventh-ranked 1A team in the latest MaxPreps.com rankings, Clayton, Cameron Sloop, Kendall Beck and Sarah Marion all were tabbed all-conference, with Morgan Smith and Maggie Holt receiving honorable mention.
Mount Airy’s Lankford, Sadie Brooks, Madeline Mayfield, Arry Ward and Kayla Hicks were the Lady Bears’ all-conference picks, with Megan Fleming and Jessica Bevard as honorable mention.
North Stokes received all-conference honors for Emma Mabe, Natalie Dodson and Chandley Garner, with Meredith Rasey and Taylor Brim as honorable mention. For Bishop, Ceci Kammire and Lydia Specht were all-conference and Dianna Borunda-Fernandez and Emma Bristol were honorable mention. Atkins’ Ariyana Caldwell, an honorable mention selection, rounded out the honorees.
Volleyball now takes a break for a few days, until the NCHSAA announces the 1A brackets on Tuesday. First-round matches will be played on Wednesday, with both East Surry and Mount Airy likely to begin the postseason at home.