The Terry Sanford team that squared off with the varsity volleyball Fighting Scots Tuesday night was a hard-hitting, physical team that attacked the Scots at every given opportunity.
But at the end of their three set win over the Bulldogs, Scotland had compiled nearly 30 digs, with 22 of those being credited to four players (Greta Griswold and Libby Ingram with six, Avery Callahan and Maddie Milholland with five a piece).
According to Scotland’s primary setter Brianna Harris, the high number of digs resulted from the Fighting Scots’ ability to maintain their defensive poise throughout the match. And it’s also an indication that the Scots are at their strongest.
“When we manage to set our digs up, it shows that we’re in our base defense,” said Harris, who led her team in assists (15) and serving points (18) in her team’s 25-17, 25-17, 25-22 victory over Terry Sanford. Callahan would finish second behind Harris with nine assists.
“I think as long as we continue to serve well, work hard and play our base defense like we should, then this team can beat anybody,” she said.
After a Caroline Pridgen ace made the first-set score 14-9, Terry Sanford would steadily climb back into the contest with several aggressive serves from Emily Spicer and Megan Downing, who led the Bulldogs in serving points on the night.
But one of the recurring themes that plagued the Bulldogs was a large number of various violations, including several attempted kills that soared out of bounds for easy Scotland points.
For Scotland coach David Barnes, many of these points were the result of Scotland’s deadly serving accuracy and solid decision-making.
“We were serving really aggressive tonight, and I think that took them out of their offense and made them uncomfortable,” Barnes said. “In order to beat a team like Scotland you have to swing hard, and us earning points from their missed shots shows that we’re disciplined enough to not chase those shots down. Good court awareness is something we stress in each and every practice.”
Terry Sanford would put up their biggest fight of the night in the second set, with Downing leading the charge by notching several early kills to help her team tie Scotland on six different occasions.
The Fighting Scots would recover mid-way through the set, however, by giving the Bulldogs a healthy dose of Caroline Pridgen, who was once again in dominant form. Pridgen would notch a team-high 18 kills against Terry Sanford, with seven of those coming in the second set.
An overpowering kill from Milholland, who has exploded on the scene in recent weeks, closed the second game after her team caught fire late with an 8-3 run.
True to their regular season form, Scotland would play their best volleyball of the night when a victory appeared on the horizon.
The score became 10-4 in the third set when Harris made a diving dig that unexpectedly turned into a kill, as the ball sailed over the net and into a seam in Terry Sanford’s defense. And the Scots would continue to pile on courtesy of Milholland, who was set up frequently by Harris and Callahan and made the most of those opportunities. Milholland was second on the team in kills with seven.
Making an appearance in the third set, Destinee Grove would also make a few impressive plays, including successfully playing a hard Terry Sanford serve that would later be converted into a Pridgen kill, which gave Scotland the 16-10 advantage.
But the Bulldogs would make a charge late, actually outscoring Scotland 10-3 down the stretch when the Scots needed just two points to win the match. But Pridgen would stop the Terry Sanford rally cold with a match-closing kill to advance Scotland to the third round of the 4-A state playoffs and a perfect 23-0 record.
Scotland will play the winner of JH Rose and Hoggard Thursday night 6 p.m. at home.