Published 12:00 am Monday, September 16, 2013

SALISBURY — The scoreboard in the Salisbury gym read: Home 20, Guest 12, and the surprised looks on the faces of South Rowan’s volleyball players shouted, “Hey, I thought we were playing Salisbury today!”
“We lost it a couple of times,” relieved South senior Lynsey Corriher said. “But we were able to collect ourselves just enough.”
South won key points and pulled out a 26-24, 22-25, 26-24 and 25-19 struggle on Monday evening, but it was a long, hard fight that could’ve gone either way.
“It was tough and we really had to grind it out,” South’s Avery Locklear said. “It was ugly, but ugly or not, it was a win, and a win is what we really needed . We needed some momentum for conference.”
South (6-6) isn’t as deep as it usually is, with Nicole Mauldin and Caroline Hubbard out with concussions, and the 3A Raiders had their hands full with the Hornets (5-4), who are contenders this season in the 2A Central Carolina.
“This program has improved a lot since I was a freshman,” said Salisbury senior Olivia Smith, who had five kills and 18 assists. “We’ve been building, and now we’ve found a six that clicks. We came out hard and our confidence grew.”
Mary Seifert had nine kills and 15 assists for the Hornets. Libero Emma Labovitz had an amazing 33 digs, and Abby Lee had 16.
Kylie Labbe had 15 digs for South, while Kari Joyce had 11.
Corriher had 18 kills and 17 digs for the Raiders, a super day, but that’s what South expects her to do.
The difference-maker was Locklear, best known for her basketball skills. The bouncy junior had 16 kills. She didn’t play over her head — she just played the way she can.
“I keep telling Avery how much we need her to play big like that,” Corriher said. “I was so proud of the way she was swinging today.”
With Locklear taking over, South wiped out its huge deficit in Game 1, and the Hornets’ last lead was 23-22. Kills by Corriher gave the Raiders 24-23 and 25-24 leads, and Joyce served game point.
Salisbury rallied to take Game 2, with a combo block by Smith and Juliana Anderson against Corriher producing the momentum-changing point. Strong middle blocker Nyasia Harris, who had 13 kills, keyed the Hornets at crunch time, powering kills for leads of 22-20 and 23-20, and finally for game point.
“This was the best we ever played against South,” Salisbury coach Mallory Hodge said. “We’ve got four seniors in the program, and they’ve gotten used to the system.”
It was 24-all in Game 3 when SR looked to Corriher. She produced two precise kills — finding the gap between diving Lora Withers and Jane Miller for 25-24, and then pounding crosscourt at a perfect angle for game point.
South jumped out early in Game 4, but the Hornets still didn’t fold. Labbe finally ended the game and the match by faking a set and dropping a dink into open space.
“I wish we were more consistent,” Hodge said. “But I liked the fight. We kept on fighting to the last point.”