09/05/07 — Spartan spikers upend W. Country Day

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Spartan spikers upend W. Country Day

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 5, 2007 3:07 PM

When in doubt, find your money player.

Needing quality swings at critical times, Kerr-Vance Academy setter Bailey Hughes put the ball in Mary Hannah Ross' capable hands. An all-state performer last season, Ross responded in dominating fashion.

A junior outside hitter, Ross pounded out a match-high 13 kills and the Spartans handed Wayne Country Day a 20-25, 25-15, 25-11, 25-17 defeat Tuesday afternoon. Kerr-Vance remained unbeaten in two Class 1-A Coastal Plains Independent Conference matches, while the Chargers fell to 1-1.

"Our team gets along so well, Bailey doesn't want to hurt any feelings and tries to distribute it evenly," said KVA head coach Paul Ross. "But when you start struggling a little bit and it gets tight, you've got to go to your money player."

Ross was cash in the bank.

In game two, Wayne Country Day (3-2 overall) pulled within 11-7 on Jessica Lewis' kill off Sterling Coggins' assist. Ross answered with back-to-back kills to give the Spartans a little breathing room.

The Chargers climbed within 14-12 on Kim Martell's service ace, but could get no closer. Senior middle hitter Kaili Leahy (10 kills, 1 block) provided three kills during a game-clinching 11-3 run.

WCDS -- again -- scrambled within two points on a third occasion, but couldn't get that third point to rattle Kerr-Vance. The Spartans (4-2) benefited from several transition balls and forced the Chargers to scramble on defense.

"We're a team that when we're down three or four points, they become so worried about losing," said WCDS head coach Juliet Jones. "They play to lose instead of playing to win, and they have a tendency to think it's over.

"Plus, we got stuck in a rotation with Lewis outside and (Stephanie) Sykes in the middle. They don't play those positions and when we switched, they couldn't recover."

Kerr-Vance served well in game three and refused to let Wayne Country Day gain any momentum. Mary Hannah notched eight kills, including the three of the last four points, in the final game.

"She's awesome," said Jones of Ross. "Any smart coach, when she's on front row, needs to give it to her every time. And they did.

"They played very well today ... great volleyball. There were moments where we played, but we've just got to be consistent."

Lewis and Martell flourished for Wayne Country Day in the opening game. The duo combined for four kills and one block as the Chargers forged a 17-17 tie.

The teams traded leads until Kerr-Vance moved ahead 20-19 on a penalty point. The Chargers polished off the Spartans with a 6-0 run, which included three aces from Kayla Flanagan.

"We finally took a game off them," said a grinning Jones. "Usually every time they come, we kind of get intimidated. That first game showed them that we can beat them and hopefully our mindset will change."

Kerr-Vance, the reigning CPIC champion, overcame its slow start and served more strategically after the opening game. The Spartans served several wide balls which took the Chargers out of their offense, and limited Lewis' swings at the net.

Lewis recorded just one kill and one block after the first game.

"The big girl is obviously a heck of a weapon and we knew they were going to her every time they get a shot," said coach Ross. "We wanted to serve and try to take her out of the play. Our serving picked up and we limited her hitting, which I thought was big."

Kerr-Vance finished with 37 kills and 18 service aces. Hughes dished out 26 assists.

Sykes and Martell led the Chargers with six kills apiece. Wayne Country Day collected 16 kills, two blocks and 10 aces as a team. Coggins and Shelly Sullivan combined for 15 assists.