SALISBURY — The usual mantra for play-off competition is “survive and advance.”
For unbeaten Carson High, Saturday’s opening round State 3A volleyball match was more a case of “dominate and keep rolling.”
The Cougars (30-0) swept past North Lincoln of the North Piedmont conference in straight sets, 25-9, 25-12 and 25-10 Saturday afternoon as they began their quest to return to the state title match.
It will take five wins to win the West and advance to the championship game for the second year in a row and Carson put the first one away with relative ease.
“We played really well today, Cougar coach Kelan Rogers said. “ I don’t think we made a single mistake in game one that cost us a point….It was a good start against very good competition but we were just a little more powerful than they were today.”
Carson demonstrated their power game in that first set as Michaela White and Hannah Elmore notched six kills each in the 25-9 route. The visiting Knights were also guilty of making a series of unforced errors that cost them in the end.
“I think we were kind of our own worst enemy,” North Lincoln coach Lynn Rhyne stated. “Some of our mistakes were our own and they capitalized on every one of them. They are a very good team.”
Game two belonged to senior middle blocker Madison Weast who had six kills and two blocks to lead the 25-12 win.
“It was probably my best set I played today,” Weast said, “We didn’t really play our best today but we didn’t play badly either.”
White aided the second game win with a pair of service aces to enable Carson to pull away.
Game three was the most competitive for the Knights as middle blocker Lyndsi Pound lived up to her name with a series of kills to put her team up 6-5 early. Libero Olivia Loeffler contributed several key digs to keep volleys alive against Carson power shots.
The Cougars took the lead for good at 8-7 then clicked off the final 11 points of the game behind Weast and Elmore to win 25-10 and claim the 3-0 sweep.
For the match, White led the way with 13 kills, two blocks and her two aces. Weast had 11 kills and six blocks while Elmore contributed eight kills including match point. Sophomore Morgan Hester had a strong showing as well with four kills, two blocks and two aces.
Although they have been there before, the Cougars are not looking too far ahead at the play-off possibilities.
“We should play every game like it is our last,” Weast said. “That way we will play hard every time.”
There is probably the temptation to peek at the Eastern bracket where four time defending 3A champion Cardinal Gibbons lurks at 22-0. They beat the Cougars last year, 3-0, in the title match and are favored to come out of the East again this year.
But that is not in Rogers’ mind at this time. “All I know is that we play again Tuesday. That is as far as I look ahead.”
Tuesday’s opponent in the second round at Carson will be Fred T. Foard (16-8) the third seed out of the Northwestern conference. They knocked off Weddington Saturday, 3-2.
Carson’s impressive first round win was the only bright spot for the South Piedmont conference Saturday as the other four teams all fell.
Second seed Hickory Ridge was surprised by West Iredell, 3-1, Cox Mill fell to South Iredell 3-0, NW Cabarrus lost to Asheboro 3-0 and Concord was swept by NPC power North Iredell, 3-0.
Carson’s Tuesday starting time will be at either 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. Rogers said.
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