PILOT MOUNTAIN — The East Surry volleyball team continued its perfect opening week on Thursday with a resounding sweep of the defending 1A state champions, Alleghany.
The Lady Cardinals (3-0) dominated the first set and earned tight wins over the final two frames to close out the Trojans at 25-13, 25-22, 26-24. It was a statement win that East Surry hopes can bring some confidence throughout the rest of the season.
“We have high goals for ourselves,” East Surry senior Cameron Sloop said. “So it feels good to play like we did today.”
Sloop came out firing in the first set and recorded six of her team-high 12 kills. East Surry coach Caleb Gilley said the gameplan was to feed his middle hitters early on, but the Cardinals noticed a couple holes in Alleghany’s defense on the outside and fed Sloop in the early going. The senior outside hitter also led the Lady Cardinals with 15 digs on Thursday.
East Surry jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first set, thanks to a pair of long runs behind the serves of Morgan Smith and Elise Hayes, and Alleghany couldn’t recover.
“We came out and did the things we were supposed to do in the first set. We were very focused and motivated to get off to a good start,” Gilley said.
However, the Trojans bounced back in the second set and forced East Surry to dig a little deeper. With the score tied at 17, Sloop rattled off an impressive run that included two kills and an ace to give her team a 20-17 lead. From there, the Lady Cardinals took advantage of some Alleghany mistakes and earned a 2-0 advantage in the match.
“Cameron was with us two years ago as a sophomore when we went on that run to the state championship,” Gilley said. “She knows what it takes and we expect a lot out of her this year as a senior.”
Things became even more difficult in the third set, as the defending champs used some quality serves to build a 13-7 lead. East Surry chipped away with some impressive serves of its own, and the Cardinals tied the set at 18.
Kendall Beck gave East Surry a lift at this point with a kill followed by a block to give her team a 20-18 lead. Still, the Lady Trojans saved four match points before tying the set again at 24. Gilley called a timeout, and his team responded as back-to-back kills from Alyssa Jessup ended the match.
The offensive depth of East Surry really showed on Thursday. Behind Sloop, Bethany Clayton recorded seven kills, Jessup six, Maggie Holt five, Beck five and Sarah Marion finished with four. Clayton also provided 28 assists, 12 digs and three blocks.
The Cardinals also have some fresh faces who contributed against Alleghany and will be key components throughout the season. Smith and Holt are two freshmen who started for East Surry and already have the faith of Gilley. Smith is the libero for East Surry and Holt serves as a middle hitter.
“I have full confidence in those two, because they don’t act like freshmen,” Gilley said. “We have a lot of girls who are capable of playing this year and it’s just going to come down to who works the hardest in practice and shows that they want to be out there.”
Another opportunity to make a statement is right around the corner as East Surry will host North Surry on Tuesday night. The Cardinals and Greyhounds split their two decisions last season.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16