Third Set Thriller Gives Lady Flyers Another Sweep

Photo courtesy Donna Ford.
Photo courtesy Donna Ford.

The Sandhills volleyball team defeated Pitt Community College on Wednesday for its 19th sweep of an opponent this season. A thrilling finish to the third set, and long volleys throughout, made the home match anything but a ho-hum affair.

Trailing for most of the final set, the Lady Flyers (23-4) survived four set points to complete a 25-19, 25-19 and 30-28 win over the Division II Bulldogs (15-7). They maintained their perfect record at home (9-0) while evening the score against a team that beat them in four sets two weeks ago.

"I was hoping it would be a different story when they came here," Flyers' coach Alicia Riggan said, recalling the loss at the Pitt Bulldog Classic in a match that was not over until about 11 p.m. "One of the things we harped on coming into this game was taking care of business on our court."

The Flyers jumped out to sizable leads in the first two sets only to have the Bulldogs make things uncomfortable toward the end. Kills by Kaitlyn Lisenby and Tee'Ashia Lilly closed out the first game. Lilly was five-for-five on attack attempts before back-to-back kills by Chelsea Green provided the final two points of the second.

The Flyers had not dropped a single set at home since a 3-1 season-opening win over Wake Tech. Pitt led throughout the third set and was within a point of extending the match to a fourth when it took a 24-22 lead.

A smash at the net by middle hitter Paige Garner, and a service ace by Abby Wallace, helped the Flyers overcome the first two-set points and take a 25-24 lead. They fell behind again at 26-25 and 27-26 before a left-handed swing from the right side by Rachael Mashburn, and an attack error by one of the Bulldogs, produced the final points of the match.

It was the first time the Flyers went to 30 points in a set since a sweep of Wytheville CC in September of 2015.

"Going back and forth in the last game, and being down set points, it was exciting to see their competitive drive," Riggan said. "Even on the sidelines, and including the coaches, I just feel like there was a lot of intensity. Everybody was into it."

Middle hitters Garner and Lilly led the Flyers with eight kills each. Libero Erica Groff was credited with 21 digs. Wallace had 30 assists to go with 14 digs. Brooke Sayers produced seven kills and 20 digs, and Lisenby added seven and 18.

"The game was really fun," said Sayers who impressed her coach with a strong all-around game and the power of one of her swings for a kill in the second set. "I love beating a team that beat us."

The Lady Flyers entertain Division II USC-Salkehatchie in a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday on Homecoming and Alumni Day. They have an 8-2 record this season against Division II teams, but also hold wins over both of the teams that defeated them.

C. Bergmann