The Sandhills Community College volleyball team displayed some grit in pulling out the first set after trailing 24-21 and went on to sweep Louisburg College 27-25, 25-11 and 25-12 at Heins Gymnasium Wednesday evening.
The Lady Flyers never trailed again on the way to improving to 4-0 while the Hurricanes dropped to 1-1. Coach Alicia Riggan's squad heads north early Friday to play a total of three matches on Saturday, and two on Sunday, at the Fashion Institute of Technology in downtown New York City.
"There was a time in that first set that we had a pretty big lead," Riggan said. "I felt we were a little out of sync. We couldn't get in a rhythm. I think that was a turning point when we grabbed that set that could have gone their way."
When sophomore middle hitter Paige Garner put away a set from Abby Wallace the home team led 16-11. But a number of forced and unforced errors contributed to the Canes scoring 13 of the next 18 points to take the 24-21 lead.
"I was just thinking we needed to stay strong and keep that intensity," Garner said afterward. "We did and we kept the momentum on our side."
The Flyers tied it at 25-25 on a tip at the net by Garner. The deciding point came after the Canes were called for a double hit.
All 10 Flyer freshmen played a role in making the second and third sets one-sided affairs. Outside hitter Kaitlyn Lisenby logged three of her team-high six kills late in the second one and Kiana Brown served for the final three points, including an ace.
A smash by freshman middle hitter Tee'Ashia Lilly led to the final point of the match. In all, freshmen Lisenby, Chelsea Green (5), Brooke Sayers (5), Jordan Ward (2) and Catherine Carriker accounted for 19 of the team's 23 kills.
"It was exciting to see those girls gain that confidence," said Garner who led the team in that department a year ago.
All 14 Flyers saw action and made it into the statistical column. In addition to Lisenby, the leaders were Erica Groff with 16 digs, Wallace with 12 assists and Garner with two solo blocks.
"Sometimes you worry when you sub that it is going to mess with the chemistry and the flow of the game," Riggan said, "but everybody stepped up and played hard. We have a lot to work on, but a win is a win so we are excited."
The weekend will include a two-hour Friday evening tour of the city in a double-decker bus and a Broadway show (School of Rock) on Saturday. The competition on the court will be tough, including a Northampton (Pa.) team that is ranked No. 6 in the NJCAA Division III preseason poll and has won the district the Flyers are a part of the past two seasons. In addition to two matches against the host college they will face Suffolk CC and Queensborough.
The Flyers will entertain Vance Granville CC in their Region X opener next Wednesday with nine matches already under their belts.
"I'm excited to be playing five matches," Riggan says. "The opportunity the girls have to persevere through something like this is really going to put us to the test and prepare us for the region, district and nationals."