BOONVILLE - The intense volleyball rivalry between Starmount and North Surry added another chapter Saturday night in the 2A state quarterfinals.
Behind a rowdy blue-and-orange clad crowd at home, the Rams jumped out to a 2-0 lead and looked poised to roll past their bitter rivals. But the Greyhounds dug deep and reeled off wins in three-straight games to pull the upset and leave Starmount stunned.
After falling behind by two games, North blew out the Rams in the third set, 25-9, before rallying from a 24-20 hole in the fourth game to force a decisive fifth set. In the final game, the Hounds scored the final five points to close out their rivals 15-10 to advance to the state semifinals.
The fireworks started early on as the two 2A powerhouses traded blows reminiscent of a heavyweight boxing match.
Starmount opened on a 2-0 run and held an 8-6 advantage early. But North remained close as the teams battled to a 13-13 tie.
Later in the opening set, the Rams flexed their muscles and grabbed a 19-16 lead, leading to a Greyhound timeout. Coming out of the break, North scored the next three points to tie things up at 19-all.
With the game still tied at 24-24, Erin Barr smacked a service ace for the Rams before Haley Hartman’s ensuing kill was blocked out of bounds to give Starmount an early 1-0 advantage.
North came out on fire in the second game, jumping out to a 7-2 lead, leading to a Ram timeout.
Starmount responded and scored seven of the next nine points to tie the set at 9-9. Later in the game, a long rally point was finally killed by Ashton Gregory to give the Rams a 13-11 lead in a momentum-changing play.
From there, Starmount outscored North 12-7 to win the set 25-18 to grab a 2-0 match advantage.
With the opportunity to sweep their rivals, the Rams seemingly fell asleep in the third game as the Hounds came out on fire.
North opened on an 8-3 run and grabbed a 17-6 lead to silence the rowdy crowd. The Greyhounds never let Starmount recover, easily coasting to a 25-9 victory to stay alive.
In the fourth, North once again came out strong, grabbing an 8-3 lead. But the Rams once again battled back as Starmount’s anchor Gregory led the way to tie things up at 16-all.
Later in the set, the Rams scored five-straight points to grab a 24-20 lead and push the Hounds to the brink.
But North scored the final six points of the set to force the decisive fifth set with a 26-24 victory.
In the final game, the Greyhounds bounced back from a slow start to tie things up at 8-8 and 10-all. North reeled off the final five points to pull off the improbable comeback to advance in the 2A state playoffs.
The Hounds will take on either South Iredell or Polk County in the state semis next week.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.