LAURINBURG — One down, two to go.
The Scotland volleyball team defeated Purnell Swett in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Monday, beating the Rams 25-19, 25-12, 25-22 to complete the season sweep. The Scots also won both regular season meetings in three games.
Last week, Molly Hayes’ squad was in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in the conference, but the Scots were edged in four games by Richmond Senior in their final regular season contest on Thursday. That loss forced a tie for second in the SEC standings, and the Raiders were awarded the No. 2 seed in this week’s conference tournament after winning a coin toss shortly after their victory against the Scots.
The Raiders, and SEC champion Pinecrest, enjoyed first-round byes Monday while Scotland hosted Purnell Swett and Hoke played Lumberton in the two quarterfinal games.
And while Hayes and her girls would have preferred to rest for the opening round, they made the most of their time on the court by putting together a complete performance against the Rams.
“We had a great and hard practice Friday, and we came out tonight and I thought the girls performed well,” Hayes said. “I was pleased with their performance, so today was a good day.”
The last time Scotland took the floor on its home court, it was sluggish in a sweep of Lumberton last Tuesday on Senior Night. That performance carried over into the Richmond game, which the Scots lost in four games after defeating the Raiders in four games in their previous meeting.
Hayes said the win against Purnell Swett can serve as a momentum-builder for the remainder of Scotland’s conference tournament run as her team looks to bounce back from sub-par performances a week ago.
“I think they realize the seriousness of the end of the season and tournament time,” Hayes said. “It’s either now or never for this group of girls. I think they understand that.”
Scotland had one of its better serving games of the season against the Rams — the Scots only committed two service errors, one off of their season-low. Macie Gibson led the team with 18 serving points and five aces. She also had eight digs.
Emma Gray Beacham posted 11 digs as she continues to become more comfortable at the libero position. The junior, who leads Scotland in assists this season, was moved from setter almost two weeks ago. Kenleigh Callahan, the Scots’ new setter, had a strong game with 26 assists.
Kaitlin Lewis tallied 10 kills and seven digs, and Nahir Pegues added nine kills.
Scotland will travel to Rockingham for the second time in less than week to play Richmond in one semifinal matchup. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Pinecrest is set to host Hoke in the other semifinal tilt. The Bucks defeated Lumberton 3-1 Monday.
Hayes said her team is starting apply the skills they’ve learned in practice to the games, and hopes they come out with the same intensity and focus they showed in the win against Purnell Swett when the Scots take the court against Richmond today.
“I think we need to bring the energy we had today and the positive mindset when we’re playing aggressive and smart,” she said. “If we play well and if we clean up our errors, I think we’ll give them a big run for their money.”
Scotland soccer falls on Senior Night
LAURINBURG — After a strong opening 40 minutes, the Scotland soccer team couldn’t sustain its play in the second half against Lumberton.
The Scots and Pirates were tied 2-2 at halftime, but Lumberton scored four unanswered goals in the second half to pull away for the 6-2 win and spoil Scotland’s Senior Night.
Scotland dropped to 7-10 overall and 2-7 in the Southeastern Conference while Lumberton improved to 10-6-2 and 5-4 in conference play.
Caleb Monroe and Jeb Britt netted goals for the Scots in the defeat.
Scotland will now turn its attention to Wednesday’s season finale at Richmond.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.