Prep volleyball: Carson 3, South Rowan 0

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 8, 2009

By Mike London
CHINA GROVE ó Senior Night recognition for nine Carson volleyball players meant balloons, flowers and signs, but it was business as usual.As usual, the Cougars won, sweeping South Rowan 25-19, 25-11, 25-17 on Thursday.
Everyone in orange was good and a girl in blue (senior libero Sarah Marshall) was something else.
If there were any tears, they came from family, not from players who expect to win and have punched their ticket for the school’s first trip to the 3A state playoffs.
“Senior Night was kind of overwhelming, but overwhelming in a very good kind of way,” senior Heather Ciscel said. “We’ve progressed as a team and gotten closer. I can’t describe how I feel right now, but I do know I love it.”
Carson (19-3, 8-3) will be back home Oct. 19 as the host for a first-round game in the NPC tournament. The Cougars clinched the No. 3 seed by completing a season sweep of the Raiders (11-7, 4-6). They are tied for fourth with Statesville.
“I thought our seniors played well and our underclassmen played well when they went in,” coach Kelan Rogers said. “I like 19-3. What I don’t like is all three losses are in the NPC, but our league has excellent teams.”
One of them is Carson, whose setbacks are to first-place West Iredell and second-place North Iredell (twice).
“In my opinion, Carson is as good as anyone in our league,” South coach Jan Dowling said. “That setter (Taylor Whitley) is smart. That libero is just awesome. Their hitters are good. I think they’re the best passing team in our league. I think they’re also the best defensive team.”
Carson attacked from every direction. Senior middle hitter Breckin Settlemyer powered 13 kills, seven in the first game alone. Soaring from the outside, seniors Jennifer Hough and Amber Ingraham had seven kills each. Operating in the middle, freshman Allison Blackwell had seven kills. Whitley contributed five kills and dozens of textbook sets.
Marissa Sellers and Leah Perkins served sharply, Shanna Stewart had two blocks, and Marshall and Ciscel were stellar defensively.
“It’s exciting,” Settlemyer said. “I’m so proud of everybody, proud of what we’ve done this year.”
Senior Kayla Morrow, who committed to Lenoir-Rhyne last week, led South with eight kills and two blocks.
“Kayla got some hits, but we did get a few blocks on her,” Settlemyer said. “Blocks are the only way you’re going to stop her.”
Setter Nicole Barringer and Amber Waldroup added three kills each for the Raiders, but diving Cougars got to just about everything that stayed in the gym.
“Kayla was off, didn’t play very well, but that didn’t lose this match,” Dowling said. “People are going to be off some nights. When they are the rest of the team can’t say, ‘Oh, well.’ Other people have to pick her up, and we really didn’t pick her up.”
Morrow’s block on Settlemyer cut Carson’s lead to 17-14 in Game 1, but a kill by Hough restored momentum.
Ciscel made a sliding dig to extend the best point of the second game, and Morrow finally spiked long. Blackwell closed that game with three consecutive kills.
South jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the third game, but Rogers called timeout. Perkins went on a run at the service line, and the Cougars reeled off seven straight points.
“It’s not like we still don’t have a ways to go, but we didn’t miss many beats no matter who we put out there,” Rogers said. “People got on the floor. We had five or six people hitting the ball down. I think we played OK.”