Prep Volleyball: East 3, Salisbury 0

GRANITE QUARRY — Salisbury’s Juliana Anderson missed a crosscourt kill attempt by an inch, ending a day of near-misses for the Hornets in the East Rowan gym.

While the volleyball teams played on even terms, East Rowan swept the Hornets 25-22, 25-21 and 26-24.

Salisbury (2-2) led late in all three sets — 20-18 in the first one, 20-19 in the middle one, and 24-22 in the final one — but the Mustangs, who turned it on in spurts, were clutch when they needed to be.

“I honestly believe we’re the better team,” said Salisbury senior Mary Seifert, who had an all-over-the-court performance that included nine kills and five aces. “But we kept getting unconfident when we had the lead. We kept letting them come back. We’ve got to finish.”

That about sums it up.

“I thought it was two very good teams,” Salisbury coach Mallory Hodge said. “We had heart and we had hustle, but we missed some chances.”

It’s not like East Rowan (3-1) was bad, but it’s not like the Mustangs were scary. If some millionaire had pledged to donate $1,000 for each missed serve, the Mustangs would’ve raised enough money to build a new gym, fieldhouse and stadium in a hurry.

East Rowan has four jump-servers. All of them eventually opted for conventional serves just to try to keep the ball in play.

“We still haven’t played well at home yet,” East Rowan coach Sandy Basinger said. “I think Salisbury played an extraordinary match. At the same time, we didn’t play to our potential today, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because it was the first day of school. Maybe because we had a little bit of a letdown.”

An East Rowan letdown wouldn’t have been surprising, given that the Mustangs won against Carson in their previous outing last Thursday. Carson has been by far the best team in the county the past five seasons, but the title of “best in Rowan” is wide open this fall. East Rowan could be that team, but it still has some work to do.

“We came out a little bit too cocky today,” East Rowan setter Jordan McCall said. “I know we could’ve played a lot better, but we pulled together and we still pulled it out.”

Ashton Rogers was the difference-maker for East Rowan. She had nine kills and three aces.

“She was the one player for us who was just phenomenal,” Basinger said.

Steady serving by Leah Wyrick and four kills by Rogers were enough to win the first set for the Mustangs.

Both teams experienced serving struggles in the second set. McCall had a big ace and set up Avery Wright for a key kill in the stretch run.

Salisbury played its best volleyball in the third set. Unfortunately, for the Hornets, East Rowan also picked it up. The Mustangs made their first passes better, and McCall started piling up assists. She had eight of her 17 assists in the third set.

Seifert is normally Salisbury’s setter, but the Hornes used her to hit more in the third set, and she made some plays. She had the kill of the day with her back to the net for 9-9, and that gave the Hornets some momentum. They kept that momentum until S.B. Fowler produced one of the few solo blocks of the day for the Mustangs.

The key point of the final set came with Salisbury leading 24-22. East Rowan’s Brittany Small got a very soft kill with a dink that fell between multiple Hornets, who weren’t aggressive and didn’t communicate.

Small and Wright had five kills each for the Mustangs. Anderson had nine kills, nine digs and five aces for the Hornets.

“It couldn’t have been any closer,” Hodge said. “We continue to improve.”

Juliana Anderson had 9 kills, 9 digs and 5 aces. Mary Seifert had 9 kills, 8 assists and 5 aces.

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