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HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County survived its test in the west. Now it’s time to test the best of the rest.
Carroll achieved the objective of surviving and advancing out of Conference 24’s divisional stage and will move on to tonight’s tournament semifinals after taking care of Pulaski County 25-18, 25-20, 25-23 in a first-round match Monday at CCHS.
The Cavaliers, No. 2 seed in the west division of the tournament, improved to 15-11 with the win and travel to east No. 1 seed Jefferson Forest, a 3-0 winner Monday over George Washington. Pulaski County, third seed in the west, finishes its season at 3-18.
“I don’t know anything about them, but they are usually very strong,” Carroll County coach Cindy Edwards said about Jefferson Forest. “I hope that our district has prepared us for that.”
The Cavaliers were competitive in the River Ridge District en route to a fifth-place showing in the eight-team league, and had its hands full subduing the Cougars in three games. Jumping to a two-set lead, Carroll needed a 5-0 run midway through the third to take a 16-15 lead, and though the Cavaliers did not trail the rest of the way, they were tied at 16, 17, 19 and 22.
“We may have lost our concentration a little bit, but [Pulaski] got the momentum and sometimes it’s hard to break,” Edwards said of the early stages of the third set. “That’s volleyball, and that’s the toughest thing about this sport – once somebody gets momentum, just trying to side it out and get it back.”
Carroll trailed 15-11 when Cheyenne Strickland put away a kill for a side-out and followed with a short ace. Three Pulaski errors aided the five-point Cavalier run.
“Everything we run is dictated by the pass,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to get the pass there to run what we do. We started passing a little better and we got our serve in a little more consistently.”
Carroll let a 22-19 lead slip away as kills by the Cougars’ Maegen Memitt and Erin Hamric squared the set at 22, but Megan Alderman’s push was returned wide and Eustacia Smith powered a kill through the Cougar defense, setting up a net-cord ace by Jessica Sheek for match point.
Carlie Perry served for three aces in a five-point Pulaski run in the opening set before the Cavaliers answered with their own 5-0 spurt to lead 14-11, finishing with five straight points on kills from Smith, Sheek and Madison Hull.
Carroll never trailed in the second set and pulled away from an 8-6 lead, trading points with the Cougars with an occasional two-point surge.
Smith and Sheek led the Cavaliers with 10 and nine kills, respectively while Smith, Alderman and Gracie Lindsey each came up with six digs. Strickland finished with six kills, nine digs and 10 assists and Alderman put up 14 assists for Carroll.