Prep Volleyball: South Rowan 3, Cox Mill 2
By Mike London
LANDIS - South Rowan senior Tiffany Brooks got ticked off just in time to save Senior Night.
After South let a 2-0 lead slip away against Cox Mills, Brooks dominated the decisive fifth set and led the Raiders to a marathon 25-18, 25-17, 19-25, 22-25 and 15-7 victory that ended shortly before 9 p.m.
"When I get mad, I can hit better," the 5-foot-10 Brooks said. "I can jump. I know I'll put it down."
Brooks finished a bouncy night with 25 kills.
Cox Mill won a three-set jayvee match, that was followed by pregame festivities honoring South's half-dozen seniors - Brooks, setter Emma Pope, Ashley Deal, Katherine Starnes, Lauren Register and Mackenzie Reid. There were plenty of balloons and streamers, plus a few tears, and then South (9-8) started taking care of the visiting Chargers (15-7), a good team the Raiders already had beaten 3-1 on the road in late August.
Set 1 was business as usual. Brooks had four kills, Register had three, and Lynsey Corriher had two.
Set 2 was more of the same. Brooks and Corriher combined for eight kills, and Reid had a big run at the service line.
"We weren't playing our best, just kind of normal, and we were winning," Brooks said. "But that third set, we went out there going through the motions, and they got in our heads. We need to play better than we did."
Cox Mill pulled away late to win the third set, and by early in the fourth set, South was on the verge of collapse. Cox Mill went up in that set by outrageous scores of 5-0, 12-2 and 17-5 before South offered any resistance.
"We did a lot of miscommunicating," said Pope. "We just kept putting balls in the net. We were kinda defeating ourselves."
The hole was too deep, but a service run by Kady Samples got South got back on track before the fourth set ended. The Raiders made a charge with three blocks by Avery Locklear and a flurry of kills by Brooks, but Cox Mill's Emily Hollis made an amazing play on set point. Hollis made a tumbling dig that morphed into a down-the-line kill.
That put the pressure on South to win the short fifth set in a gym that had started out half full and now had been reduced to families and close friends.
Kari Joyce served for six straight points as South turned a 3-1 deficit into a 7-3 advantage. Pope looked for Brooks at every opportunity,and Brooks came through. Register had a kill for an 8-5 lead, and Corriher had one to make it 11-6. But mostly it was Brooks. She hammered kills for 13-7 and 14-7, and after a nice dig by Corriher, Brooks sent one more slamming into the hardwood to end the match.
"The only thing left for me to do was get Tiffany the ball," Pope said. "She was the only one hitting it down and hitting it in. And when she wasn't hitting, she was doing a great job blocking and digging. She's the one that held us up - that kept us afloat. I just wish we could've all played like she did."
Pope had 35 assists. Corriher had nine kills, Register had six, and Pope had four. Pope and Reid had two aces each, and Joyce, Deal and Starnes had one.
South is only 4-7 in the loaded NPC, but it can tie for fourth and stay alive for a 3A playoff berth if it can beat Statesville on Thursday.