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Mindful of its “Championship” motto for the 2018 season, the Southern Nash High varsity volleyball team responded with a solid performance in dispensing with 2-A Eastern Plains Conference host Beddingfield by a 25-19, 25-15, 25-20 count Monday afternoon.
The first meeting of The Wilson Times readership-area rivals since 2016 saw each squad emerge with a 2-1 record, and Lady Bruins head coach Kelly Vinson credited third-year Ladybirds head coach Melanie Hicks for “doing a great job.”
“We have high expectations this year,” Hicks remarked. “This was a big win for us.We came in prepared. We didn’t know what to expect, but the girls really showed one of their best performances.”
Superior routine execution keyed the Ladybirds, who are coming off a fifth-place 2017 finish in the 3-A Big East Conference.
Except for a couple of late stretches, the Ladybirds limited their mistakes. Errors plagued Beddingfield. The Lady Bruins either hit with too much or not enough force, struggled with placement and passing, were inconsistent with serve-receiving, experienced communication lapses and impeded momentum with service errors.
Vinson just regrets Beddingfield has two more matches this week before school resumes next Monday and she can keep tabs on her players’ whereabouts most of the weekdays.
“Just sluggish,” she described. “Like we were stuck in the floor, stuck in mud. It took us two games to wake up and it’s hard to get out of a two-game hole.”
New for the Ladybirds was dealing with the presence of a 6-foot-4 opponent — Lady Bruins junior Makayla Everette, who wound up with 10 kills and three blocks.
“We realized where she hits,” Hicks noted. “We covered her and adjusted quickly.”
Beddingfield’s plight dipped when Everette rotated off the front row and did not play either of the three-back row positions.
“She can serve, and she’s probably going to have to later,” Vinson noted. “We do good from the 10-foot line to the net and, if we had two liberos, that would help. We are working with some things to try.”
Southern Nash wasted little time taking command, closing the first set when junior Olivia Cruz dropped a shot in the midst of a trio of Lady Bruins.
Led by junior Lyndsey Turner and junior Carrigan Ewers up front and benefiting from the floor play of junior libero Leah Longmire and sophomore Taylor Bailey, the Ladybirds bolted to margins of 4-1, 10-2 and 19-5 in the second set.
Beddingfield rallied when Everette began to assert her presence but service errors wrecked Lady Bruins momentum and Southern Nash went up by two sets.
From a 1-1 standoff in the third set, the Ladybirds built cushions of 6-2 and 11-5. The Lady Bruins finally found spark and, down 11-5 when Everette re-entered, quickly cut the deficit to 12-9. But the Ladybirds spurted to a 16-9 margin, forcing a Beddingfield time-out. With Everette again on the floor, the Lady Bruins drew as close as 22-20.
But Turner’s winner and a Beddingfield error at the net left Southern Nash in need of one point. That point came when Turner blocked an Everette hit.
While Hicks emphasized making routine plays, Turner interjected: “Communication and we had good passes. We hadn’t played them since my freshman year and we didn’t know what to expect. We just had a positive attitude and wanted to see what would happen if we gave it our all.”
Junior Tristan Foster and Cruz each registered five kills for the balanced Ladybirds. Turner served for five aces in collecting six service points.
For the Lady Bruins, Everette was complemented by senior libero Kaitlin Abrams with seven digs and junior Aaniyah Sherrod and sophomore Neleh Bottoms with five kills each.