High school volleyball: Big victory for Mustangs

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 1, 2022

By Mike London

GRANITE QUARRY— East Rowan’s volleyball team has had obvious talent for a while.

Now the undefeated and senior-led Mustangs have the right measure of experience go with it, and they are off to a fabulous start.

Wednesday’s 25-23, 25-16 and 26-24 sweep of always stout Carson was a huge victory as far as a county rivalry and it was big in the South Piedmont Conference.

“This was big for us and it keeps us up there in the league,” East coach Sandy Lytton said.

This was the first major showdown of the season in a league where the four Rowan teams are all good and are sure to finish in the top five.

“Winning that tight third set was really huge,” Lytton said. “Carson is so smart. If they win that one, they get some momentum, and maybe things change. But we closed it out.”

Leah Hinceman powered 20 kills from the outside for the Mustangs (8-0, 3-0).

Both middles stood tall for East.

Senior Dani Steelman had five kills and four momentum-building blocks. Those are like basketball dunks when the crowd is as large as it was on Wednesday. Freshman Alli Corl had seven kills and four blocks.

Outside hitter Anasty Faavesi had five kills, three blocks and four aces. She’s a powerful server, and while Carson (7-2, 1-1) didn’t give up many aces, her serves usually put the Cougars in scramble mode and on the defensive.

Hallie Cox made the sets and a lot of good decisions for East.

Peyton Whicker and Riley Hill led the back row defense. Carson tried hard to avoid Hill, a senior committed to Catawba, for good reasons.

She is closing in on 1,000 career digs.

“There were some stretches where Riley didn’t touch it, but we capitalized on the moments where we needed to capitalize,” East coach Sandy Lytton said. “We’ve grown up a lot. We’re playing so much cleaner than we used to. We’re not making many errors.”

Lytton said she saw things finally coming together for the Mustangs in a recent five-set non-conference win against Oak Grove.

East will play Oak Grove again tonight, but with no pressure. Just another chance to get better.

“I’m sitting back and enjoying it,” Lytton said. “The girls have worked so long and so hard to put themselves in this position. They’ve practiced hard and they’ve come to the open gyms and they’ve played club ball to get to where they are now. This is a good league, with a lot of tough matches ahead of us, but it’s nice to see us playing so well.”