The Sandhills CC volleyball team was still feeling disappointment on Wednesday after surrendering a 2-1 lead last Sunday in a semi-final loss to Potomac State at the Dragon Invitational tournament in Maryland.
The Lady Flyers responded with a clutch performance in the tightly contested first two sets before completing a 26-24, 25-22 and 25-17 sweep of USC-Lancaster on Faculty and Staff Night at the Hangar. Ranked No. 9 in this week's NJCAA Division III poll, they improved to 6-3 while the Lady Lancers dropped to 2-1.
"This past weekend was kind of tough so we had to come out strong," said freshman outside hitter Lilli Inman who contributed 13 kills and 10 digs to the home team's cause. "I think that's where a lot of our energy came from."
Coach Alicia Riggan's squad trailed late in each of the first two sets. The Lancers had just run off three points in a row to take a 24-23 lead in the opener when
Rachael Mashburn pushed a ball deep into an open space to knot things up. Then smashes by Inman, and Mashburn again, sewed it up for the home team.
The visitors had the upper hand at 22-21 in the second set, but the Flyers prevailed again by running off four points a row. The final two came on a block by Jordan Ward and a service ace by Inman.
Tied at 8-8 in the third set, the Flyers scored five points in a row with Tee'Ashia Lilly at the serving line. Down the stretch, outside hitter Chelsea Green was credited three kills before a thunderous block by Lilly for a point pretty much wrapped things up.
"I knew she was going to be a game-changer just because of all of the hard work she put in during the spring," Riggan said of the 5-foot-11 middle blocker. "We see a transformation from her freshman and sophomore years."
"We definitely had to stay on our toes the whole time," Housh said. "Honestly, we have to go into every game positive and thinking we can win." Riggan was pleased with the composure shown by her players.
"Lilli was a beast at the net tonight," the coach said of the Two Rivers Conference Player of the Year from Whiteville High School. "You could just tell she was asking for the ball even when we were down in the first set. That's what you want in your players and it's really hard to teach that.
"I thought Abby did a fabulous job moving the ball around and Shaedyn did a great job running the back line. I don't think the 3-0 score reflected how well USC-Lancaster played."
With the win, the Flyers improved to 4-1 against Division II competition. They hit the road again on Saturday for noon and 2 p.m. conference matches in Martinsville, VA against
Patrick Henry CC (2-2). The Patriots are expected to be their toughest competition in Region X.
"This a double-match that could determine first place," Riggan said. "We have to stay focused to play on their home court after a two-hour bus ride."
The National Anthem was performed by Roderick Brower. The faculty and other staff members that accompanied the Lady Flyers during the pre-game introductions were:
Kim Aliago, Linda Chandler, Max Dosser, Jenny Fields, Jonathan Garrison, Pete Golden, Tim Nocton, Bill Pope, Ryan Riggan and Joe Steppe.