South Lenoir defeats Rosewood in home opener
South Lenoir’s Sara Beth Stroud elevates for a kill against Rosewood in Thursday’s match. Photo by Jennifer Kopanski / Special to Neuse News
DEEP RUN — It took a little time for South Lenoir to get started, but when the Blue Devils got on in rhythm, they never looked back.
South Lenoir defeated Rosewood 23-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-12 Thursday in its home opener. After splitting its first two games on the road and falling to West Carteret Wednesday, the Blue Devils (2-1) defended their home court after early adversity.
“Rosewood’s a very scrappy team and we’re working on our consistency,” South Lenoir coach Lisa Smith said. “We came out aggressively to start the game, then got put on our heels for a bit. I can’t take anything away from Rosewood, but over the last two sets we had better teamwork with stronger passes.”
There were six ties and a pair of lead changes in the first set, but a Mallory Dawson service ace buoyed by a pair of Sara Beth Stroud kills triggered a 4-0 run to put South Lenoir ahead 12-6. The Blue Devils went up 17-12, but the Eagles (1-1) had a 9-2 spurt and never relinquished their advantage. South Lenoir tied it twice, including at 23 on Alyssa Kopanski’s hit, but Rosewood scored the next two points to close it out.
The second set was even more contested early with seven ties and three lead changes over the first 26 points. Rosewood took an 11-8 advantage, but South Lenoir scored five unanswered — highlighted by two Megan Aldridge service aces and a pair of Mary Grace Beyer kills — to take control. The Eagles tied the game at 13, but the Blue Devils answered with a 7-1 run to eventually tie up the game.
“We started talking each other up a lot more and working together as a team instead of trying to do our own thing,” Beyer said.
South Lenoir never trailed in the final two sets, with Michaela Elmore’s two service aces highlighting an 8-2 start to the third. Rosewood wouldn’t get within five and Stroud’s emphatic spike put the Blue Devils ahead 2-1.
“The energy shifted, so that was a big difference,” Stroud said.
In the fourth set, the Blue Devils again went up 8-2. Rosewood scored the next point, but South Lenoir reeled off seven straight and never let the lead shrink under double digits.
Stroud led South Lenoir with nine kills, Beyer added eight and Jessica Harris provided 23 assists. South Lenoir’s next game is on the road against Wallace-Rose Hill Tuesday — the first of four away games before facing Kinston Sept. 10.