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In a battle between leaders of their respective districts, Carroll County held off several Galax surges and kept its season record perfect following a 25-18, 25-17, 25-23 nondistrict win Monday at Galax High School.
The win was the 14th without a loss for the Cavaliers, who have a firm grip on the Southwest District lead. Being in the SWD driver’s seat at this time of the season isn’t a surprise for the Cavaliers. Being 14-0 is to some.
“I would have never, ever said we’d be undefeated right now. I think a lot of it is due to the leadership we’re getting from Kimmy and Scrappy,” said Carroll County coach Cindy Edwards, referring to the team’s lone seniors, Kim Caudill and Leanna Rippey. “They’re calm, they have a lot of confidence, and I think it makes a difference. Also, I think that all of them, all 11, getting on the floor and getting some experience helps. I feel comfortable putting any of them out there. When they get in the game, they don’t panic.”
Not that the Cavaliers weren’t given a couple of chances to get nervous by Galax (10-8), which is in a deadlock with Fort Chiswell for the Mountain Empire District’s top spot. The Cavaliers saw sizeable leads evaporate in the first and third games.
“We came back, and I was glad to see that,” said Galax coach Rose Houk, who is four wins away from 300 for her career. We had some good offense at different points of the game, but we had a lot of hitting errors, too.”
“[Rose] has some hitters,” said Edwards. “I don’t know how young they are, but I know how young we are. Not using that as an excuse, but when you’ve got six sophomores, three juniors and two seniors, you’re going to be a little bit up and down.”
The Cavaliers were up early in the third game, but an Allison White kill and a Jenna White ace helped turn an 8-4 Tide deficit into an 8-8 tie. Carroll bounded back into a four-point lead, 18-14 before the teams began swapping 4-0 spurts. The Tide came up with four straight points on the strength of two Arianna Sexton aces.
“Arianna was playing smart in the third game,” said Houk. “She had some big blocks, a nice kill and some really good serves.”
A Lindsey Poe kill and a couple of hitting errors by Galax helped the Cavaliers to a 4-0 run and a 22-18 lead, but Galax re-tied the game at 22 on a Jamie Cockerham ace and three Carroll passing miscues. Cockerham had a near-ace fall barely out of bounds, and the Cavaliers closed the match on a 3-1 run.
Dionna Reece served the Cavaliers into a 10-4 lead in the first game with three aces in a 7-0 run. The lead swelled to 10 points, 20-10, before Galax began chipping away. Winners by Cockerham and Jenna White ignited the Tide as it eventually pulled to within 20-16. Kemberlea Simmons had back-to-back kills, and Allison White spiked one along the end line during the run, which was capped by a Cockerham ace. Galax was within 21-18 before Caudill’s smash and Honesty Rogers’ ace led to three straight Carroll points and the game win.
Galax hung with the Cavaliers through the early stages of the second game before Carroll County edged out to a 16-12 lead. Rippey’s well-placed winner and a Maleah Neely kill pushed the lead to 22-16, and a passing error ended the second game and put the Cavaliers up 2-0.
Neither team racked up in the kill category, with Caudill’s eight spikes leading both teams. She also had 10 serving points and four digs. Rippey finished with four kills and eight digs, Neely put up 10 assists and Sarah Singleton served for 10 points.
Galax got eight blocks and five aces from Sexton, plus six digs from both Cockerham and Jenna White.
“Carroll is a good, good team, and it helps us to play them late in the season,” Houk said. “They had some strong hits. We told the girls to keep their heads up because they played hard. They hustled and came back on them, and I’m proud of them.”