Elkin, Starmount battle through five sets

By Kristian Russell - krussell@elkintribune.com
Skylar Shears digs the ball for the Lady Elks on Thursday afternoon. - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Abby Johnson sets the ball for Starmount. - Kristian Russell | The Tribune

On Thursday night, the Starmount Rams travelled the short distance up the road to take on the Lady Elks in a match that saw plenty of action. It was the opening conference match for both teams, and neither team was going to give up without a fight. The match went through five sets before Starmount was able to hang on to the lead to take a 3-2 win over Elkin.

In the first set, Elkin came out strong to take a 25-18 win and the 1-0 lead. The second set saw Starmount tie the match with a 25-20 win. In the third set, Starmount took the lead as the Lady Rams won the set 25-16. Starmount was looking to win the match with a win in the fourth set, but Elkin had other ideas.

The Lady Elks took a 27-25 win to send the match to the fifth and final set. It was a heart pounding fifth set for both teams as the set went beyond 15 points. Just as one team had the lead, the other would come back and tie it. As the set went on, Starmount was able to take the lead and hang on to take an 18-16 victory and win the match 3-2.

Both teams came out strong in the first set, but it was Elkin who was able to put down an early win. Caroline Cason was a force on the front row for Elkin, as she had two kills to give the Elks a 4-1 lead. As the set went on, Starmount was unable to end Elkin’s rally and the Elks capitalized to take a 6-2 lead. The Rams were finally able to stop Elkin’s scoring run, as Elizabeth Cartwright put down a kill to cut Elkin’s lead to four points.

Starmount was then able to rally and force Elkin to make mistakes for a 6-4 game. Cambria Bowen had two aces to tie the game 6-6, then put down another ace to give Starmount a 7-6 lead. The set was not dominated by either team as they both had successful rallies. Kathryn Jennings knocked down a kill for Elkin then Kayla Vanhoy had a back row kill for Starmount and the set was once again tied 9-9.

Neither team was going to give up in the first set, but it was Elkin who took the upper hand and punished Starmount for its mistakes. Cason, Audrey Jennings and Kathryn Jennings all put down successful kills, while Catie Beth Brown had two tips into empty space. Elkin was able to rally to take a 25-18 win and the 1-0 lead over Starmount.

In the second and third sets, Starmount looked like a powerhouse team who had learned from its mistakes in the first set. Vanhoy was a driving force for the Lady Rams on the front row and the back row. During the second set, Vanhoy had eight kills, two aces and two blocks for the Rams. In the third set, she had five kills and one block.

Along with Vanhoy, Bowen was a force on the back row as she had three aces in the second set and one in the third. Emma Freed was able to come up with two kills in both set for the Rams. Starmount was able to put down a 25-20 win in the second set and a 25-16 win in the third set to take a 2-1 lead over Elkin.

Just as Starmount looked to have all of the momentum, the Lady Elks proved they were not going to give up easily. The fourth set saw both teams put up a fight until Elkin was able to knock down a 27-25 win. The set started off in Starmount’s favor, but things quickly went Elkin’s way. Chloe Osborne was able to come up with strong digs which went to the hands of Brown. Brown was able to set the ball to Cason for a middle kill, and on the next play, Brown would set up Kathryn Jennings for an outside kill. Elkin was able to pull away after a successful rally for a 20-14 lead.

Starmount seemed to be out of the set as Elkin only needed five points to take the win. As sports sometimes go, the next few plays proved to be vital in the set. Starmount started off a strong rally as they scored seven points and held Elkin to just one point. The rally started with a kill by Freed, who then put down an ace to pull Starmount within four points. Vanhoy was able to pull the Rams closer as she put down a kill for a 21-17 game. Starmount kept up its momentum on the next few rallies as Bowen put down four aces and Vanhoy put down a tip to give Starmount a 22-21 lead over Elkin.

The Lady Elks never wavered during the comeback by the Rams. Elkin was able to tie the game 24-24 as Laken Brown put down a kill then Kathryn Jennings had an ace. It was all Elkin from then on as Brown, Cason and Catie Beth Brown all had a kill to give Elkin a 27-25 win, which tied the match 2-2.

As the first four sets showed, neither Elkin nor Starmount had come to lose its opening MVAC match. The final set of the night had both teams giving it their all before Starmount was able to pull away with the win.

Starmount did not look to be going home with the win as the fifth set started. Elkin came away with all of the momentum to take an early lead over the Rams. Cason had two blocks, then Catie Beth Brown had two aces for a 4-0 Elkin lead. The Rams were able to stop the scoring rally by Elkin with a kill by Johnson. Although Starmount stopped the rally, the Lady Rams were not able to pull closer than two points until late in the set.

As the minutes ticked by, Elkin kept putting down kills and blocks until Starmount called a timeout and the tide started to change. Elkin had a 12-11 lead until Vanhoy went up on the outside and slammed down a perfect set for a kill which tied the set 12-12. Just when it looked like Starmount would build off the kill, Elkin was able to take the lead off of a missed serve. Though the set was once again in Elkin’s favor, Starmount tied it 13-13 off of another Vanhoy kill.

Both teams started going back and forth with points until Starmount was able to hang on and take the win. Karli Brown went up for a kill from the left side to give Starmount the lead, 17-16. All the Rams needed was one point to seal the deal, and Karli Brown was the saving grace as she put down a perfectly placed ace. The Rams were able to take an 18-16 win in the fifth set to take a 3-2 MVAC win over Elkin.

With the win, Starmount moves to 4-3 overall and 1-0 in the MVAC. The Lady Elks are now 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference.

Skylar Shears digs the ball for the Lady Elks on Thursday afternoon.
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0086.jpgSkylar Shears digs the ball for the Lady Elks on Thursday afternoon. Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Abby Johnson sets the ball for Starmount.
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0098.jpgAbby Johnson sets the ball for Starmount. Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Lady Rams fight to earn 3-2 win

By Kristian Russell

krussell@elkintribune.com