Prep volleyball: South 3, East 0

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GRANITE QUARRY – On her best days, South Rowan’s Emma Pope can really be something, and even on her off days she can be good enough.
Pope wasn’t thrilled with how she played personally on Tuesday, but her team won 25-23, 25-16 and 25-18 on East Rowan’s court, so she could live with it.
“As a team we’ve been pretty good and we’ve surprised a lot of people,” the senior setter said. “But we’re still just playing to our opponents’ level. I’m not satisfied with today because we didn’t come out with the fire we needed. The only good thing is that we did win.”
South, which has three returning all-county players in Pope, Lynsey Corriher and Mackenzie Reid, is 9-4 overall and improved to 2-3 in the difficult North Piedmont Conference, where the league champion can compete for a 3A state title.
East has been struggling. The Mustangs’ have won only twice – both victories came against 2A Salisbury – and they are now 0-5 in the league.
“We’ve got really good athletes, but our girls are too sweet – they’re just too nice and they never seem to get mad,” analyzed first-year East coach Rebecca Cooper, a fiery competitor who was a standout for the Mustangs in volleyball, basketball and softball and competed in track at East Carolina. “But we have improved a whole lot from where we were at the start of this season and we’ll continue to improve.”
East had every chance in the world to take the first game, but it couldn’t hang on to a hard-earned lead.
“That first game was so important,” Cooper said. “If we could’ve won it, we might have stayed up.”
After an aggressive kill by 6-foot-4 middle hitter Karleigh Wike, the Mustangs owned a 23-20 edge. But Corriher and Lauren Register produced key points for the Raiders, and Kari Joyce hammered a string of powerful serves. Pope set up Corriher for the kill that put South ahead 24-23, and Joyce served an ace to end the game.
“We started out slow and not playing aggressive at all and we knew we needed to pick it up,” Corriher said. “When we fought back there at the end of the first game that was the key. That gave us some momentum for the second game, and the second game definitely was our best one.”
Tiffany Brooks had five kills in the middle game, and Pope provided acrobatic digs, dropping and rolling like her uniform was on fire. Pope ended the game with an ace.
East trailed just 16-14 in Game 2 when South’s Brooks and Beth Ann Martin made the play of the day as they leaped for a combo block against Wike.
In Game 3, South kept it going. Joyce served three more aces, Corriher had five kills, and Reid contributed several spectacular digs. That was enough to offset an impressive, six-kill game by East freshman Brittany Small and a pair of service aces by Ashton Rogers.
Brooks totaled 10 kills for the Raiders, while Wike had seven kills and led the Mustangs in digs. Brooks had 10 kills for South, while Corriher had nine.
South coach Jan Dowling wasn’t pleased with the way the Raiders started – or finished.
“Except for Joyce and her nasty serves, we didn’t have any standouts,” she said. “We’re still struggling to get going and our intensity just isn’t there right now.”•NOTES: Carson won 25-18, 25-23 and 25-17 at West Iredell on Wednesday.