High school volleyball: South earns share of CCC title
Raiders top Salisbury, take piece of title
By Mike London
SALISBURY — South Rowan’s volleyball team handled winning a championship calmly.
Janiya Downs made a little whirling motion with her right forefinger as the final ace landed. First cousins Kira Rymer and Anna Rymer slapped hands. Seniors Anna Blume and Caroline Brooks posed for photos, while head coach Jenna Horne passed out red cupcakes.
The Raiders acted like they had been there before after sweeping Salisbury, even though they really hadn’t. In decades of volleyball, this was South’s first-ever regular season championship.
Saturday’s scores in the SHS gym were 25-10, 25-18 and 25-17.
“I know we could’ve played better, but as a senior, it’s great to go out with a championship,” Blume said. “I’m just so happy right now.”
South (19-4, 16-2) cheerfully shares the 2A Central Carolina Conference title with Ledford and West Davidson. South started the season 3-3, so it has won 16 of its last 17 outings. South split with Ledford and West Davidson, The non-conference setbacks were to exceptional teams — West Rowan (ranked eighth in the state for all classifications) and Carson (ranked 10th).
“All in all, it’s been a great season,” Horne said. “I’m very proud of these girls, and they deserve to be No. 1. They practiced hard, they got along, they played together.”
Salisbury, which finished eighth in the CCC, is undersized and didn’t have any answers at the net for Downs (14 kills) or junior Kira Rymer, one of the county’s better all-round players. Rymer accumulated 14 kills, 15 assists and 10 digs.
South blitzed Salisbury (6-14, 4-14 CCC) in the first set, jumping out 7-2 and cruising from there. Downs had seven of her kills in the first set.
Salisbury showed considerably more energy and fight in the second set and started getting steady kills from 5-foot-8 senior Lila Harry.
“We’ve got a senior-heavy team and we wanted to play well in our last game here,” Harry said. “South is very good and Janiya and Kira are great players, but I thought we played up as team today. We pushed them some in those last two sets.”
After a kill by Harry, the Hornets held a 10-7 lead, but the Raiders regrouped during a timeout and scored seven straight to recapture momentum. The Hornets were only down, 20-17, and still had a chance, but a key kill by Downs, who had been quiet, and an ace by Anna Rymer put South back in control.
South was clinging to a 13-12 lead in the third set when it got hot and scored nine points in a row to pull away. Ashlyn Faw drilled a kill from the left side that helped spark the surge. The overwhelming majority of South’s kills come from Downs or Kira Rymer in the middle, but the Raiders got six outside kills from Anna Rymer, plus a handful from Blume and Faw.
Anna Rymer had 12 assists, while libero Payton Black contributed 11 digs.
Besides Harry, Marina Mueller, Madelynn Castor, setter Hannah Smith and libero Ellen Yang had good days for the Hornets.
“We figured things some things out and had our moments where we stayed with a really good team, and that’s something we can build on,” Salisbury coach Andrea Davis said. “We lost so many close matches this year, but the girls have stuck with it.”
South is optimistic about the upcoming 2A state playoffs that start on Oct. 23. The Raiders will enter those playoffs as champions.
“Being conference co-champions feels amazing because we’re still playing in a pretty tough conference,” Downs said. “Hopefully, we can get a great seed for the playoffs and go far.”
NOTES: The conference meeting today will settle the 1-2-3 seeds for the CCC tournament by drawing. … South will host the 6, 7 or 8 seed in the first round of the tournament on Monday. Salisbury is the No. 8 seed and will be traveling to face South, Ledford or West Davidson. Ledford hosts the tourney semifinals Tuesday and the championship on Wednesday.
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