The Sandhills Community College volleyball team marked the end of a season-opening stretch of 13 matches in 21 days by defeating Central Carolina CC 25-14, 25-7 and 25-16 in Sanford on Wednesday.
Freshman outside hitter Chelsea Green sparked the Lady Flyers with a team-high nine kills to go with five digs. Sophomore libero Erica Groff was credited with 20 digs and freshman setter Abby Wallace was the assist leader with 22.
The Lady Flyers, 13-0 overall, and 3-0 in Region X, moved up one place to No. 7 in this week's NJCAA Division III national poll. They will have some time to retune and recuperate before traveling to Charlotte for a non-conference match against Johnson and Wales University, a four-year college, in Charlotte on Tuesday.
One of the most important weeks of the season also includes home conference matches against long-time rival Davidson County CC next Thursday (6 p.m.) and a double-header with defending Region X champion Patrick Henry CC on Saturday afternoon (1 and 3 p.m.).
"The girls have been going at it hard since August 1, Flyers' coach Alicia Riggan said afterward. "It's going to be kind of nice to have a break. They are going to be able to go home and be with their families for the whole weekend for the first time. And if anything is hurting they will have a week to recuperate. We are going to give them Saturday off and then have them come back on Monday."
The Cougars (2-9, 0-3) ran off five consecutive points to take a 6-4 lead in the first set. Moments later, a deep smash down the line on the left by the 5-foot-9 Green put the Flyers in front. She connected two more times in the set and added three more in each of the final two.
Green finished the match with 26 total attacks as her teammates recognized she was the hitter with the hot hand.
"I felt like I really found my swing tonight," she said. "You try to find the open spot on the court and I felt like I did pretty well at that. I finally got my confidence up and got to show what I'm really made of."
Riggan compares Green's swing with that of another West Stanly High School alum, Courtney Grant, from the 2014 and 2015 squads.
"Courtney had the hardest swing, but I think Chelsea is right with her," the coach said. "We saw her step up tonight to get crucial points and hopefully she will do that next week as well."
After taking the early lead, the Cougars were unable to make more than two points in a row throughout the remainder of the match. The sweep was the Flyer's fifth in a row and 10th this season.
Groff, one of four sophomores on the team, knows the schedule ahead is challenging and the team can't afford to be complacent or over-confident.
"I think teams are going to play harder against us because of our record," she said. "We need to be prepared for that and anything that comes our way.
"The sophomores are very assertive and we get on the freshmen, but they're stepping up and some of them are leaders too. We all pitch in together."
Flyer Notes – On hand in support of her former players Groff, Brooke Sayers and Abby Wallace, and assistant coach Ashleigh McKenzie, was retired Pinecrest High School coach and NCHSAA Hall of member Barbara Foxx who resides in Sanford. "The team is very talented this year and they play so well together on the floor," she said afterward. "They are doing a lot of things great. I think they should go far this year." Harper College of Illinois (9-2) retained the No. 1 spot in the NJCAA rankings. Region X standings: Sandhills 3-0, Patrick Henry 2-0, Davidson CCC 1-1, Rockingham 1-1, Vance-Granville 0-2, Central Carolina CC 0-3.