Falcons Fall to St. David's in Volleyball
The O’Neal School varsity volleyball lost 25-11, 25-14 and 25-12 to the defending NCISAA state champion St. David’s School Thursday at the Bradshaw Center in Southern Pines.
Through the course of the match the Lady Falcons struggled, particularly on first passes and service returns. Head coach Kendall Harper attributed some of her young squad’s struggles to nerves.
“St. David’s had some good size up front,” said Harper. “They have some solid hitters and a great setter and I think my girls were intimidated. They are young girls and I think that is a factor — no matter what potential or ability a young team may have, intimidation is a factor.”
O’Neal’s roster consists of 10 players, with three juniors, four sophomores, two freshman and no seniors. The nonconference loss was the second straight for the Falcons (6-2, 2-1), which dropped a Cape Fear Independent Conference tilt in five sets to Fayetteville Academy earlier in the week.
“I did not expect the team to win this game,” said Harper. “However, I did expect them to put up a better fight. As a young team we are still learning about never giving up.
“Today the girls were leaning instead of actually getting underneath the ball. Like I tell them all the time, they have to move their feet. They were leaning and making poor choices instead of getting in front of the ball.”
Falcon junior right side blocker Aubrey Thompson was out for the match due to an ankle sprain. Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Shelton was also not at 100 percent, according to Harper. Shelton was fighting a stomach bug.
Katja Ehlers led O’Neal with seven kills, Scottie McGowan had eight assists and two aces while Kelly Griffin had a team-high 12 digs. Shelton finished with two kills and two blocks. The Falcons travel to Sanford on Monday to take on non-league foe Lee Christian.
St. David’s improved to 7-0 with the victory. Despite the two straight losses Harper is still encouraged by the potential of her team and the fast start they have had to the season.
“Our hope is to finish first or second in the conference this season,” said Harper. “We do have a young team and they are going to make some small easy mistakes but over the next few years those will be easy to correct.
“To get the experience of playing a tough team out of our league like St. David’s is always good. Our conference is so strong that five out of the six teams in (our conference) went to the state playoffs out of a total of 12 spots. So we have a very strong conference.”
The O’Neal junior varsity volleyball faced its toughest competition thus far Thursday, according to Harper, losing 25-11 and 25-14 to St. David’s prior to the varsity contest.
“While the girls had some great plays in both games, they had difficulty with St. David’s tough serves and relentless offensive attack,” said Harper.
Lindsay Vest led the team with six digs, followed by Emma Furstein with five. Darby Linn came into the second game and made some clutch digs and passes as well.
Harper acknowledged that Sarah D’Annunzio had several attacks, but St. David’s quick defense prevented them from being kills. Vest also put together a string of serves in the second game to get O’Neal back in the match, but St. David’s proved to be too tough.
The squad’s record moved to 5-3 overall, while remaining 3-0 in the conference.
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