Prep Volleyball: South Rowan wins opener
By Mike London
LANDIS ó It was opening day for South Rowan’s volleyball team on Tuesday, but coach Jan Dowling’s lungs were in midseason form.
Dowling chewed out her team enthusiastically following an ugly Game 2 loss to brand new Cabarrus County school Cox Mill. Her vocals got the Raiders got back on track, and they took a 25-12, 19-25, 25-20, 25-7 victory.
Dowling reminded her team that this sport is about hitting the ball where defenders aren’t, not about slamming the ball through the back wall.
“We had the first-game jitters,” South junior Sam Goins explained. “We didn’t have much communication out there and we weren’t talking the way you need to talk at the beginning of a new season.”
South was 18-6 last year, the best record in school history, but the missing persons include Rowan County Player of the Year Taylor May, all-county setter Krista Haywood and solid Molly Garrett.
Returning hitters include Goins and Kayla Morrow, who will be one of the county’s rare college-scholarship volleyball players. The 5-11 Morrow has a 29-inch vertical jump.
“All I did all summer was volleyball,”Morrow said. “College camps. YMCA leagues. It was non-stop volleyball except a week of basketball camp.”
Also back for South are defensive demons Tayler Smith and Taylor Lookabill, whom Dowling affectionately calls her “little people.”
The person with the toughest job is new setter Nicole Barringer, who is replacing Haywood.
“We’re doing some adjusting without T-May and Krista,” Dowling said. “There were times today we played very well together. There were other times when we got really flat and let them come back on us. We’ve just got to get on more of an even-keel.”
The biggest problem was at the service line. South had 12 missed serves and only eight aces. That made it tough to get any momentum going, and those numbers obviously won’t get it done in the NPC.
“I can’t remember ever serving that badly,” Dowling said with a sigh. “Our blocking at the net wasn’t any good either. We did pass pretty well those last two games.”
Goins was on target with her spikes and was mostly responsible for South managing to split the first two games.
Morrow got untracked in the pivotal third game, and South went to her time after time the way it used to look for May. Three straight emphatic kills by Morrow turned a precarious 11-10 lead into 14-10. South held off the Chargers from there, then cruised in Game 4.
Morrow finished with 13 kills. Goins had eight, and Kim Fesperman added six. Dowling said Fesperman played the best match of her career.
Goins and Smith had eight digs each, but it was a tougher day than anyone expected.
“I think today opened our eyes,” Morrow said. “We lost big players, and now we’re going to have to go out there and fight hard for wins. But we have players who will fight. We’ll be fine. This was just the start of a long, good season.”
NOTES: South is home today against Robinson. … Carson opened Monday with a win over perennial 2A power Starmount in coach Kelan Rogers’ debut and takes on SW Randolph at home today.