Defending champs hold home court
Southern Lee's volleyball squad didn't keep hold of the momentum throughout Thursday evening's match against Terry Sanford, but the Lady Cavaliers controlled enough of it to give the Lady Bulldogs their first loss as members of the Cape Fear Valley Conference. The Lady Cavaliers, the defending season champs of the conference, pulled out two tense sets to win in four sets, 25-23, 25-11, 14-25, 25-23.
Southern Lee (5-1, 4-1) jumped out to a lead in the first set, which became a 21-13 lead before a big Terry Sanford (3-6, 3-1) rally to 23-23.
Just when the visitors could've swiped the confidence the Lady Cavaliers had opened the contest with, a Lady Bulldog handling error, followed by a Lady Bulldog shot flying long, gave the Lady Cavaliers the lead.
From a 9-9 score in the set, Southern Lee hitters Sydney Elseth and Summer Williams put down two kills each in a 5-1 run, then hitting by Elseth and Marckee Zimmerman sparked another run of Lady Cav points to a 21-13 lead.
Having, in the end, squeaked out the set, the Lady Cavaliers turned their energy loose and dominated the second set. Southern Lee led 10-3, then 13-4, then 17-5 on back-to-back aces by Madison Henley.
Lady Cavalier setter Erin Pickens had 13 assists in the first two sets. Zimmerman and Elseth led the Cav hitting with five kills each.
Southern Lee remained in good shape early in the third set and led 12-9. A 10-0 Terry Sanford run, with the Lady Bulldogs suddenly regaining their attacking play at and above the net, made it 19-12 and Terry Sanford wound up closing the set, and keeping the match alive, with a 16-2 finish to the set.
Fittingly, the final set had ups and downs all to itself. Elseth, a 5-foot-11 junior, came through repeatedly for the Lady Cavaliers.
Terry Sanford led 11-8 before Southern Lee moved back in front with eight straight points on Williams' service. Elseth, first with a powerful spike, then with a push shot placed into a deep corner, made it 11-11, then 12-11 Lady Cavs during the run.
From Southern Lee's 16-11 lead, Terry Sanford answered to take a 20-19 lead. Amber Hall's kill, from a Pickens' set, made it 21-21. Pickens to Elseth, with Elseth flying in from her outside hitting position for a kill into the middle of the court, made it 23-22 Lady Cavs.
After a Terry Sanford miss, then the Lady Bulldogs fighting off one match point, it was Pickens setting to Elseth again for a big spike to clinch the match.
Pickens finished with 22 assists. Elseth led the Lady Cavs with 14 kills. Zimmerman had six kills and three aces. Williams had five aces, five assists and four kills.
With other CFVC results from Thursday night pending, Southern Lee and Union Pines share first place with 4-1 league marks. Lee County and Terry Sanford are 3-1.
Southern Lee's next match will be at Lee County, and the first conference match between the Lady Cavaliers and Lady Jackets, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.