The varsity volleyball Fighting Scots began their quest for an eigth-consecutive SEC conference championship this week, hosting Jack Britt Wednesday night for their home opener.
And while they may have lost a few key contributors in the off-season, Scotland appeared as sharp as ever against the Buccaneers, winning in consecutive games by a score of 25-11, 25-9 and 25-20.
After their season-opening road win against South View, the Fighting Scots have outscored opponents by a combined total of 150-65 in the early season.
“As always, we wanted to out score and out pass the other teams,” said David Barnes, who has just started his 10th season as the head varsity coach. “We’ve been able to do that which sets up our offense and allows us to rely on our best skill players to set the tone.”
The Scotland playmakers expected to make the biggest impact this season are Greta Griswold, Libby Ingram and Caroline Pridgen, the latter of which already owns every Scotland High School hitting record as she enters her senior season.
All three players fired on all cylinders against Jack Britt.
In the first game of the match, the Fighting Scots jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead over Jack Britt as Pridgen imposed her will early via several powerful spike kills. She also utilized her tall frame at the net, pairing with Avery Callahan for a couple of blocks early in the contest as well.
Brianna Harris was a critical component for the Scots’ success in all three games, utilizing her role as a setter to allow Pridgen and Ingram numerous opportunities for kills. Ingram in particular was a force in the second game, having more than five kills in that contest en route to her team’s 25-9 win. Also in the second game, Callahan notched numerous serve aces as the Scots dictated the pace throughout.
But whether it was nerves or an initial lack of chemistry, Scotland allowed Jack Britt to vault to an early lead in the third and final game before settling back into the contest.
“We stumbled a bit out of the gate in game three,” Barnes said. “But we added some different people into the mix and eventually retook control of the match.”
One of the players who was inserted into the lineup in the second game was Jessi Kee, who took full advantage of her playing time and was one of the key factors in Scotland’s turnaround in the third game. After Scotland allowed the Buccaneers four consecutive points to open up a 10-5 lead, Kee helped spark the Scots’ comeback with several clutch kill points, including a spike that gave the Fighting Scots an 18-17 lead, their first of the game. Griswold also came up big down the stretch with several diving digs and also set up Pridgen for a kill that made the score 20-18. The point would spark a 5-2 run including an emphatic match-ending spike kill from Ingram to give Scotland the 25-20 game three victory.
In their first two contests, the JV Fighting Scots volleyball team have gone 1-1. In their 25-12, 25-18 win against Southview, Hailey Clark led the team with 16 serves and five aces, while Clark, Ashleigh Bailey and Sarah Martin had a kill each in the season-opening win.
The JV Scots would follow that matchup with a loss in consecutive sets Wednesday night against the Buccaneers. In that match, Clark led the team with three kills and four digs, while Bailey wasn’t far behind with two kills and two digs of her own.
The Fighting Scots will next be in action Thursday night, hosting Whiteville with a JV gametime set for 5:00 p.m.