South volleyball holds off Cougars
By Mike London
LANDIS ó South Rowanís volleyball team broke out new izebraî uniforms complete with black animal stripes on white shorts, but the sporty zebras were nearly one-and-done.
South coach Jan Dowling would have put the zebras on eBay at a cheap price had her team lost to neighbor Carson, but the Raiders survived 25-12, 25-18, 19-25, 22-25, 15-9 in front of a roaring crowd Tuesday.
Krista Haywood had 37 assists for the Raiders. Taylor May had 23 kills, and Kayla Morrow added 16. Molly Garrett served for a team-high 19 points. Taylor Lookabill made nine digs.
iWe let up some after we won the first two games, but credit Carson with playing great defense,î Dowling said. iWe got away from our gameplan and started trying to finesse things instead of using our power. Not many people are going to block Taylor and Kayla, but we kind of started playing it too safe.î
South (11-4, 9-4) is fourth in the NPC. Carson (7-9, 4-9) still has a chance to finish in the top six.
Both teams entered the match off huge NPC wins. South beat third-place West Iredell last Thursday, and Carson upset second-place Lake Norman.
South cruised in the first two games behind Haywoodís precise sets and the power and jumping ability of May and Morrow.
A kill by May gave South an 11-10 lead in Game 3, but Carsonís Shanna Stewart turned momentum around with a kill, an ace and two more strong serves that led to points.
iI think we just got tired of playing the way we started out,î Carson setter Taylor Whitley said. iWe beat Lake Norman, so there was no reason to slack off against a rival. The crowd got us pumped up, and we started playing together as a team.î
An early 6-2 South lead in Game 4 disappeared after Whitley got on a roll at the service line. Then a combo block by Stewart and Breckin Settlemyer against May got the Cougars and their fans excited.
With Carsonís Sarah Marshall making tough digs from corner to corner, the Cougars won a spectacular, backbreaking point that lasted a minute to take a 22-17 lead. Then they closed out the game on strong net plays by Amber Ingraham and Settlemyer.
iI thought we showed a little grit to come back and take it to five games,î Carson coach Trish Hester said. iTo fight back like that, in this kind of atmosphere, it shows the girls what they can do.î
Taylor Smith started Game 5 with solid serves for South, and Morrow took charge at the net. South got a few breaks, Carson was in a quick 4-0 hole and Hester had to use a timeout. It was 8-1 when she used her last one. The Cougars tried to rally late, but a flurry of kills by May put the game and the match away.
iWe just got those new uniforms today, and that was one more reason to get fired up,î May said. iI donít know why we changed up what we were doing, but then we started putting it right down their throats again in the last game.î
Dowling, whose team will face East Rowan on Thursday, was glad to get out alive.
iWeíre still undefeated on this second round of the league,î she said. iWhat we learned today is what we do best is be aggressive. We canít tighten up. Weíve got to go get it.î
South vs. Carson is always fun in any sport, and dozens of Raider Rowdies shook car keys and chanted iDrive home safelyî as Cougar fans filed out.
Fridayís football game has a tough act to follow.