SL's resolve key in first volleyball victory in 2018

SL's resolve key in first volleyball victory in 2018

South Lenoir’s volleyball team certainly played to its banners Wednesday.

On one side of Munn Gymnasium, the phrase “Never Under Estimate The Heart Of A Champion” is shown with “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up” on the other. The Blue Devils showed heart and resilience in a 25-20, 13-25, 25-22, 25-9 victory over Richlands, their first of the 2018 campaign.

“We had a new outlook, came together and played well,” South Lenoir coach Lisa Smith said. “We were talking and got adjusted very well late. (Richlands) has a very good team and they’re extremely scrappy.

"We can do the same when we want to — it just needed to click.”

South Lenoir (1-1) came off Tuesday’s loss to Croatan and trailed early in the first set before using a 10-0 run to take a 12-4 advantage. Richlands (1-1) got within three, but the Blue Devils coasted despite some slip-ups.

After dropping the first set, Wildcats roared back in the second. Trailing 9-7, Richlands would reel off six straight points — highlighted by an Allison Falls service ace — to take control. The Blue Devils closed the gap to 15-12, but Richlands ended the set on a 10-1 run and went into the third with momentum. Amelia Staggs had two aces during a 5-0 run to start the third set and South Lenoir would trail 15-6 at one point.

From there, the Blue Devils rolled, reeling off 11 of the next 12 points to tie the set at 16, including a pair of Sara Beth Stroud kills. South Lenoir took its first lead of the third at 20-19 and although Richlands tied it on the next point, the Blue Devils closed the set off with relative ease.

“We started playing as a team,” Stroud said. “We moved people around and our passes got better, which led to better hits. (Tuesday) we had first-game jitters and we got nervous early (in this game) but we started communicating better and it worked.”

Momentum secured, the Blue Devils went on a 6-0 run in the fourth set to lead 9-3. The Wildcats got within 10-6, but South Lenoir dominated from there, scoring the next seven points and closing out the match on a Michaela Elmore service ace.

Mallory Dawson said teamwork and communication were the keys to victory.

“(In the third set), we looked at each other like we really need to get it together,” Dawson said. “We figured out what we needed to do and we’ve also got to work on not getting mad when we make mistakes.”

Stroud led South Lenoir with 11 kills, Allysa Kopanski added seven, Dawson had five kills with six blocks and Sydney Wallace provided 17 assists.   

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