After a Nov. 5 Region IV volleyball quarterfinal between Carroll County and Cave Spring, both team’s coaches agreed that the Cavaliers will be able to compete in the River Ridge District next season. But Cave Spring’s three-set victory in Hillsville also proved that it won’t be easy for the Cavaliers against that district’s top teams.
Showing flashes of brilliance in a 25-15, 25-19, 25-11 loss to the Knights, Carroll County still had a tough time dealing with Cave Spring’s height and quickness. Led by 6-1 freshman Piper Roe, the Knights featured a lineup with four players 5-9 or taller. Head coach Tamalyn Tanis said size is a must in a district with Hidden Valley, a team the Knights finished second to in the regular season and River Ridge District Tournament.
“In Hidden Valley’s area you have to have tall girls because they are ginormous. We finally have a six-footer, a 5-10 and a couple of 5-9s,” Tanis said. “But I think (Carroll County) will see it and get better. They already have good athletes, play good defense and hit great serves. They just have to get used to seeing that quicker-paced tempo. If they see it on a regular basis, they’ll be able to compete. They have a lot of great athletes. They are better than some of the teams in the district already.”
Cave Spring (25-5) jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the opening set behind the power of three aces. After the opening onslaught, Carroll County (19-5) responded with four straight points thanks to a missed serve and a couple of Eustacia Smith kills to get back to within 8-5. The Knights increased their lead to 14-7 and never led by fewer than six the rest of the way in earning a 25-15 opening-set win.
After giving up the first point in the second set, the Cavs put together their best spurt of the night, scoring seven of the next eight to take a 7-2 advantage. Rachel Farmer and Smith each had a kill during the run and Farmer added a block around a couple of Cave Spring misplays to put Carroll ahead.
Smith added a dink at the net after a one particular long point to put the Cavs in front 10-5 before the Knights started to regain control. Ignited by three aces and a pair of big kills, Cave Spring reeled off nine of the next 10 points to pull in front 14-11. A misplay briefly stopped the bleeding before the Knights tacked on three more unanswered to lead 17-12.
“A lot of times we get so anxious and spastic… miss a set here and a serve there and a play out of bounds, then it’s four or five straight points,” Tanis said. “I didn’t call timeout because I was hoping they’d recover.”
An Autumn Hill kill and a Farmer block brought the Cavs back to within three. A nice play at the net by Morgan Tompkins had Carroll down just 23-19 before Cave Spring called a timeout. Roe then followed with a kill and the Knights then finished the set with an ace to go up two sets to none.
The third set belonged to Cave Spring. After missing a serve to tie things at 1-all, the Knights scored the next four points and six of the next seven to go up 7-2. After a kill by Smith, Cave Spring added five of the next six to pad its cushion to 12-4.
The Cavs called a timeout after falling behind 17-7, but the Knights still took four of the next five to take a commanding 21-8 advantage. The Knights eventually pulled away 25-11 to earn a date in the Region IV semifinals.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Carroll County, who had won 17 of its previous 18 games en route to sweeping the Southwest District regular season and district tournament championships after starting the season 1-3. After the contest, Carroll County head coach Cindy Edwards agreed with Tanis’ assessment that the Cavaliers would be able to compete in the River Ridge when it begins play there beginning with the 2012-2013 season.
“We’ve said that for years. We see it in a scrimmage to start the season and then we don’t see it again until we get here,” Edwards said. “It’s just seeing that tempo regularly.”
Grace Lindsey led Carroll with 13 service points and 11 digs, while Smith had a team-high 12 kills. Farmer’s three blocks paced the Cavs at the net and Megan Alderman had 11 assists.
Despite the loss, Edwards was extremely proud of how a young Carroll team finished the season after the 1-3 start.
“We had a good run there and a good start to the second set…it’s just sustaining that is hard. I thought their serving was a factor,” Edwards said. “But I think we’ve had a fantastic year. We improved tremendously from where we started. We are still very young and I’m proud of them for sticking with it and continuing to work hard.”