Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2013

MOUNT ULLA — Girls are allowed to celebrate volleyball points with impressive displays of joy that would get a guy a 15-yard flag on the football field in a heartbeat.
West Rowan’s Anna Messisco showed a triple-stomp celebration move to die for, and her enthusiasm carried the Falcons to a two-game lead against East Rowan on Tuesday in the West gym.
West couldn’t finish, however, and the Mustangs surged back to take a 19-25, 23-25, 25-10, 25-15 and 15-9 SPC marathon.
“Anna actually got that move from me,” said West coach Jordan Raye, who was a sensational setter for Catawba not long ago. “When I played, I was even more emotional than Anna, and the Messiscos were my biggest fans when I was at Catawba.”
Raye got used to winning at Starmount High and Catawba, so this season has been an adjustment. She probably wanted to weep after the Falcons let one slip away, but instead she was philosophical.
“We have gotten better — I’ve had multiple people tell me how much better we’ve gotten,” she said. “Our record just doesn’t show yet that we’re better. It might take a few years, but the girls are starting to look at volleyball not just as something that’s fun, but as something that’s very important to them.”
While West (2-14, 0-13) hasn’t won in the SPC, East (6-13, 4-10) has endured its own struggles. East knocked off likely playoff teams Concord and Northwest Cabarrus, but it hasn’t won consistently.
“I think the girls play when they want to, and that’s very clear,” said East coach Rebecca Cooper, a former three-sport standout for the Mustangs and a javelin thrower for East Carolina. “It did take heart to come back from 2-0 today, and I commend the girls.”
East should be more of a factor in the SPC next year. Sophomores Brittany Small and Avery Wright are talented, and freshman setter Jordan McCall is a whiz.
Messisco, Jordan Kepley and libero Parker Williams led West in Game 1, and Hannah Moseley had three key kills in Game 2.
The tide turned in Game 3 when East’s 6-foot-4 senior Karleigh Wike stepped to the service line and had a huge run to put the Mustangs in control. East got momentum there, and never gave it back.
“Coach talked to us and woke us up,” Wike said. “She reminded us we’d worked too hard not to play like it.”
Messisco had 13 kills to pace the Falcons.
Wike had 18 kills. Wright had 15. Small had 10, including six in a dominant Game 4.
“We started playing as a team,” Cooper said. “We trusted each other and we pulled it out.”