After defeating the Seventy First Falcons in consecutive sets for the second time this season, all signs point towards a collision course between the varsity volleyball Fighting Scots and Pinecrest.
Thus far this season, Scotland has surrendered just a single set en route to their 8-0 regular season record and appear poised for another conference championship run.
But upon beating the Falcons 25-13, 25-19 and 25-11, Scotland head coach David Barnes believes his team has yet to be truly tested despite their early season dominance.
“We have much tougher opponents coming up as conference play begins,” Barnes said. “It seems like it always comes down to Pinecrest and us every year, and this year is no different because they have one of the best teams in the state. We’ll have to be ready.”
Pulling double-duty for the JV and varsity Fighting Scots Wednesday night, Avery Callahan opened up the first set with consecutive aces to set the tone early against Seventy First. The Falcons would keep the first set close at the onset however, as Kelsey Bradley utilized her tall frame to protect the net from the inevitable barrage of Scotland kills that have been their calling card thus far this season. Falcons teammate Keilah Long would also help her team remain in the set by hitting a diving dig that would result in a point shortly thereafter to make the score 10-5 in favor of the Scots.
But then as she’s done throughout her Scotland High School career, Carolina Pridgen would take control of the first set with three kills and a serving ace on consecutive points to help Scotland open up a 15-7 lead.
Pridgen would convert 17 out of 40 kills on the night, while Libby Ingram led her team with nine out of 18 attempted kills for a 50% accuracy rate.
Though the second set reflected a much closer contest, it was due to a pre-game strategy that Barnes sought to employ against the Falcons.
“We wanted to work on our off-speed shots in the second set,” Barnes said. “I told them before we faced Seventy First tonight that we weren’t going to swing for the fences in that set because we need to practice softer shots in case we have a game where we can’t land kills.”
In for the Fighting Scots to start the second set was Brianna Harris and Maddie Millholland, and both made the most of their opportunities.
Scotland would vault to a 6-1 lead in the second set before allowing Seventy First to creep back into contention. But serving for the Scots, Millholland would play a hand in five consecutive points to once again give Scotland a comfortable 17-9 cushion. Millholland would land seven kills out of 16 attempts on the night.
Meanwhile, Harris would pair with Pridgen for several soft kills that would land in the open court of the Falcons which stayed true to Barnes’ second set game plan. Harris would also tally 10 total assists throughout the three sets, joining Callahan (11 assists) and Jessi Kee (who had a game-high 12 assists) as the three Fighting Scots who collected 10 assists or more.
Barnes would take off the reigns for Scotland’s third and deciding set, allowing his team to be fully aggressive against the Falcons. And they would respond accordingly.
After notching one of her game-high four digs, Ingram would then fire a rocket over the net that Seventy First couldn’t react to which gave Scotland an 8-1 in the third set. It would be part of an 11-1 Scotland run that helped close the lady Scots’ 8th win of the season in emphatic fashion.
The JV Scots would also dominate on the night, besting the Falcons in consecutive sets as well by a score of 25-14 and 25-12. Hailey Clark would lead all players with four kills, while Callahan notched seven assists and three serving aces as well.
The Fighting Scots will begin conference play tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. by hosting Purnell Swett before the first of two regular season face-offs with Pinecrest September 11th in Southern Pines.