It was back to the basics at Monday morning's practice for a Sandhills Community College volleyball team that split four matches on Friday and Saturday at the Pitt Bulldog Classic.
"Playing four games in less than 24 hours, the girls could have easily folded, but they didn't," Lady Flyers' coach Alicia Riggan said during the workout at Heins Gymnasium. "Of course I wanted to go 4-0, but I thought going 2-2 against really tough competition was great."
Coming off a week that included five matches in all, the Lady Flyers take a record of 19-3 overall, and a 7-0 mark in Region X, into Tuesday's 7 p.m. contest at Louisburg College (14-3). On Wednesday they play host to Central Carolina CC (2-10, 1-5) in a 6 p.m. conference match on a Pink Out Night that is a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Lady Flyers were ranked No. 9 in last week's NJCAA Division III poll. They dropped the first set to Surry County CC on Friday before rebounding to a 15-25, 27-25, 25-20 and 25-17 victory. Paige Garner led the attack with 16 kills and Abby Wallace was credited with a season-high 45 assists. Erica Groff (27), Kaitlyn Lisenby (18), Rachael Mashburn (18), Brooke Sayers (16) and Wallace (12) were all in double figures in digs.
The Flyers fell 15-25, 21-25, 25-10 and 20-25 to Pitt in Friday's second match. Garner (16) and Sayers (10) led in kills. Wallace had 38 assists and Groff again led in digs with 27. They bounced back to sweep Northern Virginia College, their third Division II opponent in a row, on Saturday morning 25-16, 25-13 and 25-22. Garner had 13 kills and Wallace and Leah Salzwedel were the leaders in assists with 20 and 13 respectively.
The two days of play concluded with an 8-25, 20-25 and 21-25 loss to Division I Spartanburg Methodist on Saturday afternoon. All four of the weekend's higher division opponents have winning records. The Flyers are 7-2 overall this season against Division I and II squads.
"I wish we had played better against Spartanburg Methodist, but it was good for the girls to see big and consistent hitters." Riggan said. "They had a front line that was just hammering the ball.
"We were talking about it as a coaching staff. Do we expect to win every game? Absolutely, but it's also nice to play really tough competition that can humble us a little bit and remind us this is why we are still practicing. We're trying to iron out a few kinks and everything always goes back to the basics."
The annual Breast Cancer Awareness events have been a special occasion for the Lady Flyer volleyball program. The two teams and many fans will be decked in pink on Wednesday.
Last year funds were raised in behalf North Moore High School student Liz Ray whose cancer is currently in remission. She has developed her own campaign to support other young cancer patients at Duke Children's Hospital by putting together "Love by Liz kits" that contain such things as make-up, scarfs and finger nail polish to make the girls feel beautiful.
The Lady Flyers and the Student Life organization at Sandhills are partnering to continue to support Ray and the overall breast cancer awareness cause. As of Monday, 338 "Pink Out" t-shirts had been sold by the players. Funds will also be raised via a 50/50 raffle, luminary bags and direct donations.