Vike Netters Suffer First Loss
After opening the week with a convincing three-game victory over Richmond Senior, the Union Pines volleyball team got its first taste of defeat Wednesday with a four-game loss to West Montgomery at Bob Ward Gym in Cameron.
With the 18-25, 25-18, 9-25 and 16-25 loss, Union Pines’ record moved to 4-1 on the season.
According to head coach Leslie Fish, the difference between her Viking team’s execution and passion from their Tuesday victory and Wednesday performance was night and day.
“After a strong all-around showing to open the week Tuesday, we just had a major letdown in intensity and focus tonight,” said Fish. “We missed a bunch of serves and, with Tiffany Hicks out of the middle, West Montgomery picked us apart spot-wise the whole match, and we did not adjust.”
Tiffany Hicks, a junior middle hitter and three-year starter for Union Pines, recently underwent knee surgery and is likely to miss close to six weeks of action as a result, according to Fish.
In their Tuesday match the Vikings seemed to deal with the loss of their big hitter in fine fashion as they scored a 25-21, 25-12 and 25-22 three-game sweep of Richmond (0-3) in a home match played at New Century Middle School.
In that tilt, sophomore setter Megan Harris had 22 assists, two kills and a block as she spread the ball around to the Vikes’ three primary healthy hitters — who combined for 17 kills — in freshman Alex Prots (five kills), senior Kelsey Troyer (six) and sophomore Charlotte Holder (six.)
“It has been a tough adjustment moving up to the varsity level,” said Harris after Tuesday’s contest, “but for the most part as long as we can get good passes, I am usually able to get a decent setup there, and my teammates are able to hit it down.
“Without Tiffany in the middle, our other hitters in there are going to have to get on and off the net a lot faster. Tiffany was our best and most experienced hitter for the most part, so the other girls are really going to have to step up and fill in. Over time I am sure they will get it.”
While the Vikings seemed to be getting it Tuesday — converting on 24 of their 35 attacking tries — Wednesday’s rematch with West Montgomery was a different story. Overall, Union Pines converted just 16 of its 39 attacking chances in its first loss of the season, while committing 11 attacking errors, combined with another 11 serving errors.
“We had a lack of communication out there this time against West Montgomery (4-1) and it showed,” said Fish. “We also missed Tiffany as our middle hitters were often choosing to chip despite not facing a blocker or either they were simply hitting the ball out.
“We did not play with the aggressiveness I would like to see, and every time we started to gain some positive momentum we would make a costly error. So we were just not sharp and we were flat.”
Union Pines, with Hicks playing, went on the road earlier this season and topped the 1-A Warriors in five sets by a tally of 25-22, 23-25, 12-25, 25-21 and 15-8. In that match Hicks had an impressive eight blocks in the middle along with two kills.
Senior libero Brittney Erickson was a bright spot for the Vikings in Wednesday’s match. Playing on the backline she tallied 32 digs and also racked up four service aces. Freshman middle hitter Stephanie Johnson also had a strong showing with five kills and six blocks, as did senior outside hitter Kelsey Troyer with 16 digs and two kills.
Senior Latoya Cuthrell led the way for the Warriors with 18 kills, seven blocks and seven digs, while junior Lauren Morris had 12 kills and three blocks. Senior Blair Johnson had 28 assists, four service aces and four digs for West Montgomery in the match.
Union Pines finished the week Thursday with a rematch against nonconference opponent 4-A Purnell Swett, a squad the Vikes bested in three games last week. The Vikings are back in action Monday in Fayetteville for another nonconference tilt against Terry Sanford at 6 p.m.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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