RONDA – The Starmount volleyball team snapped a two-match losing skid with a hard-fought 3-0 win over East Wilkes on Thursday night in the regular season-finale for both squads.
The win salvaged a near-winless week for the Rams, who finished the Northwest 1A Conference slate at 7-5 (13-9 overall), after losses to Alleghany (3-0) and Randleman (3-1) the previous two nights.
In addition to the conference win, the 13 victories surpass Starmount’s win total from the three previous seasons combined.
Starmount managed to hold off an upset-minded Cardinal squad, who recognized their five seniors prior to the match, despite a pair of tight sets by identical 25-22 scores.
But the Rams set the tone in the opening set, but a big run from each team also factored in.
Starmount built an early 8-2 advantage behind back-to-back kills from Morgan Pinnix and a kill from Jadyn Haynes.
Pinnix also closed an 8-0 run with an ace to extend the visitor’s advantage to 17-5. An Olivia Ray ace gave the Rams their biggest advantage of the match at 20-7.
The Cardinals fought back on the strength of Briley Church. The senior setter provided strong serving to rally for eight consecutive points with an ace and fellow twelfth grader Lilly Adams connected on a kill as East Wilkes (5-14, 3-9) cut the deficit to five (20-15). Adams finished with team-highs in both kills (six) and blocks (12).
But a pair of errors allowed Starmount to retake control and it ran off the final five points to take the opening set, 25-15.
The Cardinals took the early advantage (3-1) on a block from Adams and held a 10-9 advantage on a kill from Peyton Mastin.
After an Olivia Ireland kill tied the match, the set involved five ties and neither team led by more than four points, which occurred at 19-15 on the strength of a pair of kills and an ace from Pinnix.
Emma Smith also connected on a kill during the run and added a kill to regain a four-point advantage at 24-20.
Much like the second set, the Cardinals jumped out to the early advantage behind a Hailey Edwards kill and an ace from Meredith Carter.
The Rams rallied to take a 14-9 lead on the strength of a kill from Ray, which prompted East Wilkes head coach Laken Pardue to use a timeout.
East Wilkes came back to tie the game the set at 15-15 on the strength of a block and a kill from Adams.
But Starmount ran off the next six points to retake the lead behind a Haynes kill and kills from Ireland and Pinnix pushed the advantage to 23-17.
After cutting the deficit to 24-20, East Wikes substituted Payton Spicer in for Kyleigh Lane to serve and the decision paid dividends as the junior recorded an ace.
Mastin then cut the deficit to two with a kill but a kill from Smith put the match to bed on the next point.
Both teams will now turn their attention to the conference tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Monday night at the higher seeds. The semifinals and finals areTuesday and Wednesday, respectively, at East Wilkes.
Notes: Haley Ward, another East Wilkes senior recognized last Thursday, paced the Cardinal defense with 10 digs while Carter and Payton Spicer finished eight and seven digs, respectively. Chruch added 14 assists on offense.