RONDA — The East Wilkes Cardinals volleyball team has earned the nickname “The Comeback Kids” from their head coach, Kassi Money. On Thursday night, the Cardinals took on Wilkes Central in front of a packed house in Ronda. The Cardinals lost the first set, but won the second, third and fourth sets.
“I feel great about the win. My girls are basically the comeback kids as they give you a little heart attack at the beginning, but they pull it together near the end,” said Money. “It’s the type of team you always want as a head coach. I’m impressed with how focused they are on game days.”
In the first set, the Cardinals battled the Eagles to a 30-28 loss. The Cardinals had 11 kills, six aces, and played some incredible defense. The Cardinals’ libero, Kandice Darnell, made a diving save to set up a kill that gave East Wilkes a must-needed point. Although the Cardinals earned a point, Wilkes Central made the most of the next few plays as they went on a five-point run to give the Eagles an 11-6 lead.
East Wilkes was finally able to break the run when the Eagles missed a serve. Rachel Prevette was a saving grace for East Wilkes, as she stepped up to serve and got the Cardinals back in it with five points to tie the game. The Cardinals kept battling back and forth with the Eagles, as one team would go ahead the other would tie it on their next possession. The score line went from 25-25, to 27-27, then 28-28 before Wilkes Central was able to pull of a 30-28 win in the first set.
The second set East Wilkes was down, but as soon as it looked like Wilkes Central was going to win the second set, the Cardinals took the game into their own hands. With the score tied 21-21, Lauren Johnson and Prevette gave the Cardinals the win they were looking for after Johnson served three aces and Prevette had a kill. The Cardinals won the second by a score of 25-21.
In the third set, East Wilkes came out on fire and earned a 6-2 lead early in the set. They held on to that lead until Wilkes Central started to battle back to make the score 21-19. The Eagles started to find their groove and started to place the ball towards East Wilkes’ weaknesses. With the score tied 24-24, the Cardinals knew they had to pull out all of the stops to earn their third-set win. They did just that as Wilkes Central was called for a net violation and the Cardinals took a 27-25 win in the third set.
In the fourth set, both teams started to play scrappy as they couldn’t seem to string together a volley until the eighth point when Johnson found herself punching a wild ball over the net to tie the game and give the Cardinals the momentum they needed. The Cardinals found Wilkes Central’s weaknesses at the net and exploited them, as Johnson, Prevette and Leah Byrd all had huge kills in the fourth set to give the Cardinals a 25-20 win and a 3-1 match win over Wilkes Central.
“This season, we’ve improved on communication,” said Money. “We’ve improved tremendously on placement of the ball, whether that be on serves or finding the blockers when we’re hitting the ball. We’re working each week to get better.”
East Wilkes moves to 2-1 for the season, its next game will be at Alleghany on Tuesday.
Kristian Russell may be reached at 336-258-4052.