Epic Effort: Vikings Rally Past Mustangs in Volleyball
One week after holding off a surging Overhills' squad to win their Cape Fear Valley conference opener at Union Pines, it was the Viking volleyball team that played the comeback card to defeat the North Moore Mustangs, in a five-set thriller, Wednesday at Bob Ward Gymnasium.
In the intra-county rivalry match, the Vikes were down two games to one, and seemed to be on the ropes after dropping game three by a score of 25-12.
Spurred on by a spirited home crowd, Union Pines (3-7) defeated North Moore (5-3), 25-22, 20-25, 12-25, 25-17, 15-9 to avenge a non-conference loss to the Mustangs last week in Robbins.
Vike Sophomore libero Lexi Byrd finished the night with 20 digs and was instrumental in the final two sets of the match.
"We were talking much more out there on the floor tonight," Byrd said, "and that was a big help in getting to so many balls. This is a good feeling to beat North Moore on our home floor after we lost to them at their place.
"It was really an intense match throughout; we have never played at home with the noise level nearly as high as it has been lately. That type of crowd support really does make us feel better on the court, work that much harder and be confident down the stretch."
Union Pines coach Leslie Fish feels Byrd possesses a crucial on-court presence.
"Lexi is tough," said Fish. "She is our defensive specialist, and I was pleased with her leadership, intensity and effort."
Byrd, Crystal Hicks, Tyler Ross and Morgan Bridgers all turned in extraordinary performances in the final two games of the match.
Ross, a freshman, had seven digs in game four and spiked down eight of her game-high 17 kills over the final two sets. Hicks had 12 kills and 17 digs on the night, while Bridgers finished with 18 assists.
North Moore opened the night on a 6-0 run in game one and led 8-2. However Union Pines battled back to tie the game at nine all before going on to a 25-22 win. Then the Mustangs used strong net play, precise passing and deft defense to take game two and three.
Fish admitted she was surprised her team was able to mount a comeback after losing the third game by such a large margin.
"Our girls responded to the challenge and knew they were better than the way they had played," she said. I was very pleased with the intensity we showed in sets 4 and 5. The girls played like they wanted it and are proving to each other that they can do what it takes if they keep the energy and focus high
"Intensity is the key to our team. All our wins have one thing in common- intensity. This victory is a huge confidence booster for us in terms of our upcoming conference schedule."
Union Pines is 1-1 in the CFV and played Western Harnett Thursday in Lillington.
Katelyn Sheffield finished with a match-high 24 digs for North Moore. Jessica Garner and Samantha Morgan paced the Mustangs strong overall play at the net, each finishing with 13 kills. Garner had 14 assists and 12 digs.
The Mustangs are 4-2 in the Yadkin Valley conference and hosted league foe South Stanly on Thursday. It was the Mustangs' third game in as many days.
Contact F.W. Manning II at 639-5481 or by email at email@example.com
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