EAST BEND — North Surry turned on the pressure and pulled away from West Stokes to win the tournament championship for the Western Piedmont Conference.
The Lady Greyhounds split the first two sets with the Lady Wildcats, then went on a hot streak in the third set that carried over into the fourth for a 3-1 victory.
The two teams traded points early on, tying on every point between one and seven before the Wildcats jumped ahead at 12-7. The lead bounced around at that margin up to 21-16.
North Surry scored three straight points to close to 21-19, drawing a timeout from West Stokes.
The Hounds tied the score at 22-all and went ahead for a 25-23 win. They finished the set on a 9-2 run.
In the second set, the Hounds were up 10-6 when West Stokes ripped off six straight points behind the serve of Audra Brooks.
From 20-18, the Wildcats scored five of the last six points for a 25-19 set.
“We were flat early,” said Coach Shane Slate. “I kind of expected that after going five with Surry Central (Tuesday). We managed to shake it off, after the second set in particular.”
Though it took a while to get in gear, he said, the team grew more aggressive in the third and fourth sets.
From a 4-4 tie, North Surry ran off seven straight points with Malaya Johnson serving and 10 of 11 for a 14-5 lead.
West Stokes scored three of the next four points to make it 15-8, but the Hounds took the next three points and cruised to a 25-17 win to go up 2-1.
North started off the fourth set 9-2 and never let West Stokes back in the match for a 25-10 win.
In the last two sets, the players were in better defensive position and also got in the right spots on offense.
The Hounds seemed to pay particularly close attention to middle hitter McKala Bozman.
Slate said he always scouts the team’s best weapons, and that scouting is particularly important when the top scorer is a middle hitter. Where does she like to receive the set? Where does she play the ball?
After the match concluded, North setter Bailey Culler was named most outstanding player for the tournament.
Culler added 44 assists to her total against West Stokes, along with 14 digs and serving 11-12.
Joining her on the all-tournament team were Johnson, Alex Cooke and Erin March.
Johnson had 20 kills and six blocks in the final. Cooke posted 11 kills and March 10, and March led the team with seven blocks.
In other stats, libero Abby Golding had 14 digs and was 18-19 serving. Aubrey Hall had 11 digs and was 23/25 serving with two aces. Morgan Hawks had 11 digs and was 15/16 with two aces.
Joining the Hounds on the all-tournament team were Bozman and Julie Fulk of West Stokes, Kelsey Taylor of Surry Central, and Meredith Boles of Forbush.
See the Friday edition of The News for coverage of the all-conference team and player of the year.