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HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County used a 10-1 run in the first set and a 15-3 tear in the third to roll to a 25-16, 25-22, 25-8 win over Galax in a nondistrict match Monday night.
“We played well defensively,” Cavalier coach Cindy Edwards said after her team improved to 2-1 on the year. “And we keep talking about somebody stepping up and wanting to be the one to put the ball down, and I see us getting better doing that.”
Carroll County’s attackers seemed to gain velocity as they gained confidence throughout the evening, culminating in a 17-point win in the third set. Seniors Ashley Willard and Lexi Hodge had four kills apiece in the third.
“We attacked the ball well,” said Edwards. “We’re still a young team, experience-wise. These kids don’t have the experience that the kids that I lost had, but they’ll get it.”
The match was an uncharacteristically shaky one for the Maroon Tide, which has high hopes for the season after returning numerous players from last year’s Region C Division 1 runner-up squad.
“We had too many unforced errors tonight,” said Galax coach Rose Houk, who counted 25 hitting errors on the night. “We’re a much better team than we showed. I give Carroll County a lot of credit. They’re a hustling team and they have a lot of spirit, and they always play tough. But for some reason we played timid and had entirely too many errors. We’ll just have to work hard this week and get it turned around.”
The Cavaliers owned the first and third sets, but holding off a Galax rally in between may have been the difference overall. Ashton Huff served Carroll into a 21-10 lead with five straight points, but Bailey Shumate reeled off four aces in six serves to pull the Tide back to within 21-17. Galax climbed to as close as 24-22 before Willard’s dink settled into a gap in the Tide defense for the winning point.
“I think passing was the difference for us tonight,” said Edwards. “When they got on that one run – and give Bailey Shumate credit, we had a hard time handling her serve – other than that we passed well. But we did a heck of a job defensively.”
“Bailey had several really good serves right then, and I was proud of how we fought back,” said Houk.
The game was an illustration of what Edwards has been hoping to see from her team.
“We’ve talked about it since camp this summer,” she said. “We may have had somebody 24-19 and instead of putting them away we’d let up. We’d tighten up and put pressure on ourselves instead of relaxing and playing the game. We did a great job when it was 24-22, not letting the ball hit the floor.”
The bookend games lacked any such dramatics. Hodge’s kill started a 10-1 run as Megan Alderman served the Cavaliers into a 13-4 lead in the first. Carroll would build a 10-point advantage, and took a one-set lead when a Morgan Dickens bump fell just inside the end line.
Following the tightly-contested second set, Carroll County trailed 2-0 when Willard put herself at the serving line with a front row kill, then served for eight straight points, including two aces. Hodge put away four kills as the advantage grew to 15-3.
Willard eventually rotated to the front and took over the net with three kills and a match-ending dink among the Cavaliers’ final six points.
Hodge and Willard each put away eight kills on the night, Autumn Fink had 12 digs and Dickens put up 12 assists. Willard also served for 13 points.