Viking Netters Sweep Falcons
The Union Pines volleyball team improved to 2-0 on the season with a straight set 25-16, 25-18 and 25-23 victory Tuesday over intra-county rival The O’Neal School at the Bradshaw Center in Southern Pines.
Storming out early, the visiting Vikings set the tone by taking a 15-3 lead in the opening set. Viking junior Kelsey Troyer collected 10 straight service points in the opening stanza.
“Kelsey is doing real well out there adjusting to being a right-side hitter,” said Union Pines head coach Leslie Fish. “I knew she could do it and she is showing that she can.
“In warm-ups I felt like we were going to do a good job of covering deep by the way they were performing and we did. There was a lapse for five points in the second set, but we took a time out, made an adjustment and my girls responded well.”
In the second set, Union Pines used a combination of solid net play and strong serving to build a 13-7 advantage.
Viking sisters Crystal (senior captain) and sophomore Tiffany Hicks combined for six kills and four blocks in the second frame.
O’Neal took a 5-1 lead to open the third set.
The homestanding Falcons fought on to lead 15-10, only to see Union Pines take eight of the next 10 points and grab an 18-17 edge.
From there, the game was back-and-forth with ties at 19-all, 20-all and 22-all. Then the Falcons went up 23-22 on a kill by senior Torry Feder, but the Vikes claimed the final three points to take the set and the match.
Historically, Fish has constantly stressed to her teams the importance of taking a match in three sets if the chance presents itself. The Vikings were able to do just that Tuesday.
“O’Neal came out here all and played hard and they jumped on us in the third game,” said Fish. “They made our girls work to take this thing in three.
“We constantly tell the girls, ‘If you give a team an inch, there is no telling how much they will take,’ so you never want to let a team back in the match. That is why we always talk about finishing and never letting up and I look for it to be a defining character of our team.”
Crystal Hicks had 14 kills and five blocks for the Vikings, while fellow Morgan Bridgers had a game-high 27 assists and Lexi Byrd finished with 11 digs.
Stat leaders for O’Neal were Katja Ehlers with four service aces and six digs, Jackie Chamberlain with six kills and Taylor Shelton with four blocks.
The loss was O’Neal’s first of the season. The Falcons (2-1) hosted North Moore in another cross-county contest Thursday.
“Our girls got off to a slow start each game,” said Falcon head coach Kendall Harper. “Lack of communication and loss of confidence was a big factor for the Falcons’ loss. However, these girls have a ton of talent as they have shown in our previous games.”
Union Pines returned to action Wednesday in Fayetteville, earning a victory over Terry Sanford while improving to 3-0 on the season.
Bridgers led the Vikings with 39 assists. Crystal Hicks had 15 kills and five blocks, Tiffany Hicks had 10 kills and six blocks, while Brittany Erickson had eight digs and five kills for Union Pines.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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