Staring at match-point twice in a tie-breaker set, the Sandhills Community College volleyball team rallied to complete the regular season with a dramatic 25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 23-25 and 17-15 victory over USC-Salkehatchie on Saturday at the Hangar.
Middle hitter Carley Modlin went up three times in a row for blocks to turn away the Indians and knot the final set at 15-15. An attack error, and then a kill by outside hitter Morrigan Denman, produced the final two points that brought glee to most of the Sophomore Day crowd.
"On that last point I just wanted to finish and get out of here," Denman, said of a day that began with the first match at 11 a.m. and ended after 5 p.m. with a big swing that sent the ball out of play off a hand of one of the Indians. "We were fighting for every point. It was fun."
Combined with a 25-9, 19-25, 25-12 and 25-14 conference win over Southwest Virginia CC in the opener of the tri-match, the Lady Flyers take a conference record of 8-0, and an overall mark of 18-10, into the Region X tournament next Saturday at Rockingham CC in Wentworth.
As a first-year program, Southwest Virginia is not eligible for post-season play. Coach Alicia Riggan's squad will meet Rockingham CC (0-7) at 10 a.m. Patrick Henry CC (5-3) and Central Carolina CC (2-6) face off at noon. The two winners play for the Region X tournament title at 2 p.m.
The champion and runner-up both advance to host district tournaments on November 1-2.
USC Salkehatchie (13-12) defeated Southwest Virginia (5-13) in the second of Saturday's three matches, leading up to the day's exciting finale.
Leading 23-19, the Flyers appeared well on their way to defeating the Division II team from Allendale, SC in four sets before allowing the Indians to score the six consecutive points that forced the tie-breaker.
"That fourth set was real hard to watch, but we didn't give up and that was exciting to see," Riggan said afterward. "This was a big win and I'm excited for the girls."
Before the 11 a.m. opener, Stephanie Pages, the team's only sophomore, was honored while accompanied by her mother Maria Borges. A product of East Montgomery High School, she played at Pfeiffer University last year before transferring to Sandhills.
Modlin had 15 kills and five solo blocks in the win over Southwest Virginia. Lowe was credited with 30 assists and Willow Williams was the leader in digs with 16.
A defensive specialist, Pages' contributions included 11 digs and three service aces.
"Going 2-0 on Sophomore Day feels great," she said. "This is the best team I've played on in a long time. Everybody gets along so well. We communicate well and I really like the teamwork we've had."
In her 11th season at Sandhills, Riggan does not recall ever having only one sophomore on a team.
"Stephanie brought some leadership to a brand new team," the coach said. "Having a year of college volleyball under her belt also helped her lead in other areas off the court. She gets in and does her job and is a positive teammate."
Lady Flyer Extra – Riggan noted a breakout day for middle/outside hitter Khalie Jones. The 6-foot Purnell Swett grad had a season-high six kills against Southwest Virginia and then topped that with seven against USC-Salkehatchie. Her 13 kills for the day came on 27 attacks. Lowe's total of 66 assists on Saturday took her over the 500 mark (511) for the season. The Division III Flyers completed the regular season with five wins in a row and a 10-3 record against Division II teams. Two of those losses came against teams they split with (Pitt CC and Wake Tech).