South volleyball gets big NPC victory
By Mike London
LANDIS ó Krista Haywood bowled over Amber Waldroup with a spontaneous tackle, and Kayla Morrow and Taylor May met in mid-air for a chest-bump followed by well-choreographed somersaults in opposite directions.
South Rowan’s volleyball team found creative ways to celebrate Tuesday and had every reason to be jubilant.
South scored the final five points against Lake Norman and survived a seesaw NPC marathon it was an inch from losing. The scores were 25-16, 23-25, 25-20, 17-25, 16-14.
“Too close for comfort,” South coach Jan Dowling said. “We really shoulda won that second game and won in three, but I’ll give my girls credit. They stuck with the plan.”
The Raiders staved off match point on a clutch dig by Morrow. The seventh straight win for the Raiders (14-4, 11-4) elevated them into a tie for second place in the NPC.
“We’re just more confident now than we were earlier,” Morrow said. “We lost some tight matches like this. Now we’re winning them.”
Undefeated North Iredell has clinched first place. South, Lake Norman and West Iredell have four losses each.
Lake Norman had a height advantage, but back-row girls Dowling calls “little people” kept points alive. Taylor Smith and Haywood made 16 digs apiece, and libero Taylor Lookabill contributed 10.
Besides their defense, Smith and Lookabill combined to serve for 32 points.
Haywood, South’s senior setter, had an eventful day with 43 assists and six combo blocks. She also knocked over a spectator diving into the bleachers and made three great digs on a single point.
May produced 23 kills. Morrow had 13.
“When push comes to shove, we’re gonna go with those two,” Dowling said. “They’re our horses.”
Dowling said senior Molly Garrett ó who served for 19 points, made 11 digs and contributed nine kills ó had her best game. Garrett’s play on the outside kept Lake Norman’s tall blockers honest, and they weren’t often able to double-team Morrow and May.
South dominated Game 1, let Game 2 slip away after leading 23-22, regained momentum in Game 3, then got whipped in Game 4.South led 7-4 in the fifth game, but the visiting Wildcats (13-6, 11-4) took over, grabbed a 14-11 lead and needed a single point to put the match away.
Morrow hammered a kill to make it 14-12, and her strong serve pulled the Raiders within 14-13.
Morrow put another serve in play, but Lake Norman handled it smoothly and set up what appeared to be a match-ending kill. Morrow went to the floor for her 11th dig to keep the Raiders in it.
“I’ve watched a lot of film on Lake Norman,” Morrow said. “Their big girls always hit to the short corners, and we worked all week on getting to our bases. All I could think of was getting to my base, and I got there. It was pretty exciting. I’m still shaking.”
Morrow’s dig led to May’s final kill, and it was 14-14.
Morrow then put two more serves in play, and South claimed the final two points on Lake Norman errors to set off a celebration on the court and in the bleachers.
“Everyone pulled together there at the end when we were down,” Dowling said. “When we do that, we’re a hard team to beat.”