South volleyball advances
By Mike London
HARRISBURG ó South Rowan volleyball star Taylor May was off her game so much she spent half her time Tuesday sitting on the bench next to coach Jan Dowling.
Dowling ventured a guess that May had five kills in a second-round 3A playoff game played in Hickory Ridge’s chilly gym.
Actually, May delivered 23, which means the senior is pretty good even when she seems to be pretty bad.
The key to South winning 26-24, 23-25, 25-16, 25-14 over the SPC champions was teammates coming through during May’s rough patches.
When May is on, and she was on at times, all she needs is a set, a ref and a scoreboard operator.
“Taylor has struggled only twice this year ó against East Rowan and today,” Dowling said. “She stayed positive through it all and pushed the team. And it’s like I told the girls today, ‘She’s carried you plenty of times. Today, it’s your turn to pick Taylor up.’ ”
The Raiders picked her up. Kayla Morrow had 15 kills. Molly Garrett had 11.
Krista Haywood had 33 assists and 15 digs. Tayler Smith and Taylor Lookabill had 11 digs each, and Morrow contributed 10.
“I was way off at first, but Coach took me out, got on me and talked to me,” May said. “There was just a lot going on. We had some tired issues. Most of us played in Monday’s powder-puff football game.”
Dowling theorized the powder-puff pigskin fun removed a little bounce from the legs of her players. Whether it was that or something else, South (18-5) wasn’t as sharp as usual. Hickory Ridge (18-5) was skilled, made impossible digs and had tough servers, especially sophomore Sarah Henderson, but South had edges in size, power, depth and experience and should have had an easier time than it did.”It was hard to fire them up and it was hard to watch,” Dowling said with a sigh. “I think I’d rather have been in a dentist’s chair being fitted for dentures.”
Besides May’s ups and downs, South had serve-receive issues. Assistant Norma Wiedenhoft, who kept track, said it was South’s worst game of the season in that critical facet.
“Hickory Ridge is a good team, exactly what we’d been told they would be,” Dowling said. “We knew they could serve and we knew we had to pass well, but we did not. That’s disappointing.”
The first game was tied 24-24, but South pulled it out with two clutch kills by Morrow.
In Game 2, South got six kills from Morrow and grabbed a 23-21 lead on a kill by Amber Waldroup, but Hickory Ridge ran off the last four points of the game to even the match.
Momentum swung back to the Raiders in Game 3. South dug a 5-0 hole, but Garrett led a comeback, and May buried the Ragin’ Bulls with a spectacular spree that had fans stomping in the bleachers. She had kills for South’s 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 24th points. Nicole Barringer produced a kill to end the game.
May produced another sudden flurry of kills to break open Game 4. A kill by Morrow ended the game, the match and the youthful Ragin’ Bulls’ season.
“Everyone stayed up and picked me up,” May said. “It’s exciting to make the third round. We talked about keeping the dream alive, and that’s what we did.”
NOTES: Next stop is Olin. South, which has set a school record for wins, plays at undefeated NPC champion North Iredell Thursday. North Iredell swept Asheboro Tuesday. South has won 12 of its last 14, but both losses in that stretch were to North Iredell, one of the favorites for the 3A state title. … While teammates May and Lookabill spell their first names “Taylor,” Smith spells her first name “Tayler.” Her family wanted her to be unique. Smith was pretty unique at Hickory Ridge, digging and serving well with a heavily wrapped right thumb. “I was going to make a set against Mooresville and jammed it down,” Smith explained. “I chipped the growth plate in my hand, but I wasn’t going to miss the playoffs. I’d rather play hurt than not play at all.”
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