South Lenoir cruises to victory on Smith's birthday
South Lenoir's Michaela Elmore prepares to serve in Tuesday's game against Kinston. Photo by Laieke Abebe / Neuse News
DEEP RUN — Tuesday was a special day for South Lenoir head volleyball coach and athletic director Lisa Smith.
On her birthday, the Blue Devils downed Kinston in straight sets, 25-17, 25-17, 25-5. South Lenoir (6-1, 2-0 Eastern Carolina 2A) took advantage of its passing and defense against a very competitive Vikings squad.
Coach Smith had her team ready to play in what was the conference opener for Kinston (1-5, 0-1).
“We’re improving each game,” Smith said. “My team knows that we have to work and play like a team all season long. I think we’re doing a good job of that, but we have to keep it up and stay focused. Hopefully, we’ll be able to play the style that we want to play consistently as the season goes on. We’ve been nursing some injuries, so I hope to get some of our key players back in the lineup sooner rather than later.”
Unforced errors plagued the Vikings throughout the match and the Blue Devils were took advantage of that. Despite what the score indicated, Kinston showed a lot of toughness and they stayed close in each of the first two sets before South Lenoir pulled away.
Senior middle hitter Sara Beth Stroud set the tone early with a couple of blocks and kills to get her team going. Solid serving from the Vikings kept them in it early, but they weren’t able to cut into the deficit.
Despite the loss, Kinston head coach Stephanie Ybarra is confident that her team can be competitive against a difficult conference slate, showcasing the ability in the first two sets.
“I thought we played well,” she said. “We’re going to bring some heat and a lot of teams are going to underestimate us because of our struggles. My girls have been competing and they’ve been giving a lot of effort so far this season. We made a lot of progress today and there’s still plenty of season to look forward to.”
The Blue Devils started the third set on an 11-2 run and coasted from there.
Smith was happy to pick up the win, but also gave Kinston a lot of credit for how well they’ve played in 2019.
“Kinston has improved tremendously,” Smith said. “They’re a threat to anybody they play because they hustle and they work hard in every game. We played slow coming out of the gate, but we were able to get going towards the end of the game. A game like this can help us continue to build towards the later stages of the season.”
South Lenoir hosts non-conference opponent Wallace-Rose Hill on Wednesday before traveling to face Greene Central on Thursday. Meanwhile, Kinston will head on the road to face conference opponent West Craven on Thursday.