Lady Rams closing in on conference title
by Matthew Gorry
BOONVILLE - With the volleyball season coming to a close, unbeaten Starmount is closing in on yet another perfect run through the Mountain Valley Conference.
The Lady Rams, who haven’t lost a conference match since 2009, took one more step towards perfection Tuesday with a three-game sweep of rival Elkin.
Starmount breezed to a 25-7 win in the first set before battling to 25-15, 25-12 triumphs in the second and third sets, respectively.
“I thought we had a lot self-inflicted wounds tonight,” Starmount head coach Jon Symons said. “I think we made five errors in the first game. And hopefully, at some point in the near future, will be uncharacteristic of us. We had moments where we looked really good and other moments where our mind looks like it goes somewhere else.
“We’re just trying to work to get better, but we’re running out of time. Time is ticking away and we need to get a little more focused,” he added.
Reigning MVAC Player of the Year Ashton Gregory once again paved the way for the Rams with 10 kills and four blocks, while Hunter Welborn added six kills and three service aces.
Rachel Wagoner went 23-for-24 from behind the serve line with eight aces and five kills, with Josie Matthews adding five kills and a dozen digs.
Hayley Hartman recorded five kills and 10 digs, while Sydney Caudle added four aces on 9-for-11 serves. Erin Barr tacked on 30 assists.
In a closer-contested match than the first meeting between the schools - Starmount cruised to the sweep 25-3, 25-9, 25-8 - Elkin battled the Rams closer in the second matchup.
In the first set, Starmount jumped out to a 24-3 lead before winning 25-7.
The second set proved to be much closer as the Rams took a timeout early in the game with the score tied up at 7-all.
Elkin was unable to maintain the hot start as the Starmount lead grew out to 16-10 and 21-12 before the Rams took the set 25-15.
In the final set, Starmount scored seven of the first eight points and took a 12-3 lead midway through. The Elks never found their rhythm in the game as the Rams scored the last three points, capped off by a Caudle ace to complete the sweep.
“Individually, Erin did a good job. She’s probably one of the better setters in the area, not just in our conference,” Symons said. “Ashton had some good swings, Hayley tracked down a couple balls and Josie is improving and that’s key for us. We need Josie to have confidence in her knee, and she’s gaining that; you can see it in the way she plays.”
With the win, Starmount improved to 19-3 overall and 13-0 in the conference. With three conference matches left (at West Wilkes, North Wilkes, Alleghany), Symons said he is implementing some rotation changes to “try something different” for the stretch run of the season.
“We’re going to make some major changes, as far as our rotation, at practice this week,” he explained. “We’re going to try something different and see what it looks like. I’ve watched enough film to think this will work, so we’re going to take a look at it.
“I think we’re good, but we’re not there yet. Depending how we want to spend these next couple weeks will determine if we get to play in November, and that’s the goal for everyone,” Symons added.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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