The Sandhills Community College volleyball team hopped on the bus at 8 a.m. on Saturday for the start of a 270 mile round trip to Martinsville, VA that was completed with the return home later that afternoon.
In between, the ninth-ranked in NJCAA Division III Lady Flyers swept Patrick Henry CC twice to improve to 8-3, taking a large step toward a second consecutive Region X regular season title. Because of air conditioning problems, the matches were actually held at the nearby Bassett High School gymnasium.
"We wanted to come in with lots of energy," Flyers' coach Alicia Riggan said afterward. "It's a tough thing where you play such a good team back-to-back like that.
"Due to the travel we've done this for four years now. I'm super-excited for the girls that they took care of business."
The Patriots were the regular season and tournament champions in the first two of those years while the Flyers grabbed those titles last season.
Riggan's squad took advantage of service errors by their opponent to get off to a strong start and win the match that began at noon by scores of 25-12, 25-15 and 25-14. Outside hitter Lilli Inman put together a strong game that included seven kills and a team-high 16 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Lisenby with 13 kills and 10 digs, and Wallace with 40 assists and 13 digs, led the way in the 25-16, 25-18 and 25-19 victory in the second match.
"All three can contribute at any given time," Riggan said of the team's trio of outside hitters that includes Inman and Chelsea Green. Freshman Ivy Futrell, also possesses a strong swing as does right side hitter Rachael Mashburn.
"Kaitlyn kind of had that hot hand today," the coach said. "She came out on fire. I think she was feeling it too and I couldn't be more proud of her. We saw that with LIlli the other night."
The third set was tied 18-18 as the Patriots bravely fought to extend the match. The 24th point came on a win at the net by middle blocker Jordan Ward. A service ace by Wallace produced the final point.
Lisenby, a product of West Montgomery High School, had a hitting percentage of 41.7 on team-high 24 attempts in the second match.
"It was fun and it really helped my confidence," she said of all the attacking opportunities that came her way. "I think overall we kept together as a team and played really well today. We all had our moments."
A busy coming week of matches against higher division teams begins with the Flyers entertaining Guilford Tech at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. They have a 5 p.m. date at Wake Tech on Thursday before facing Harford CC, Pitt CC and Surry CC at the Pitt Bulldog Classic on Friday and Saturday.
Just as they are at the Hangar, the Lady Flyers were well-supported by parents and other Flyer faithful in Virginia.
"I think the parents do a great job of supporting their girls," Riggan said. "It means a lot when you're traveling and you see that half of the fans are our people."