Pinehurst, NC - The Sandhills Community College volleyball team defeated Rockingham County CC 25-19, 25-21 and 25-16 on a Saturday afternoon that was designated as Sophomore Day at Heins Gymnasium.
The Lady Flyers, now 21-4 overall, and 9-0 in Region X, complete conference regular season play with a 7 p.m. match at Davidson County CC on Tuesday. A busy week continues with home dates with Pitt CC at 6 p.m. on Thursday and a doubleheader against USC Salkehatchie at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday.
"It's crazy to think we're already celebrating the sophomores," Flyers' coach Alicia Riggan said afterward. "I feel like the season is flying by. There has been a lot of emotion in the week with this and our Pink Out on Wednesday which the girls put a lot into.
"We've got a lot going on next week and the tournament is coming up in two weeks which is what we've all been working for."
By the end of Saturday's match, sophomores Paige Garner, Erica Groff, Morgan McCarthy and Leah Salzwedel had contributed to the team's 40th victory overall, and 20th in conference play, during their tenures with the team.
A smash by middle hitter, Garner, who led the Flyers with 10 kills, provided the final point in a competitive first set. With the visitors leading 21-20 in the second, she put the ball down at the net to start a finishing run of five points in a row. The third set, and the match, ended on a service ace by Salzwedel.
"Rockingham is an aggressive team, but our girls persevered and finished," Riggan said. "I couldn't be more proud of where we are right now."
Rockingham fell to 2-14 and 2-6 with the loss. Groff was the leader in digs with 17. Freshman Kaitlyn Lisenby contributed nine kills and 11 digs. Freshman Abby Wallace was credited with 16 assists and nine digs.
Salzwedel, who has been sharing the setter duties with Wallace, finished with eight assists and eight digs. When two-time all-region setter, and now assistant coach, Cheyenne Brown was injured last season, she took over at the position and the Flyers won seven matches in a row. Twice during that stretch she was credited with 40 assists.
"With everybody helping me it built up my confidence," she said. "I've known Paige since we were four years old and we've played volleyball together since seventh grade so that helped me get in a groove. I've always wanted to work hard and be the best I can be."
At the end of this academic year, the North Moore High School graduate plans to continue on at Sandhills for the next two years to become a registered nurse. She also plans to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree online through a program Sandhills has with UNC-Pembroke.
"Leah is super-competitive," Riggan said. "She has a great jump serve and has that mentality that she never wants the ball to hit the ground."
The Lady Flyers have clinched the first seed for the Region X tournament to be held at Central Carolina CC on October 20-21. Conference standings: Sandhills 9-0, Patrick Henry 6-2, Davidson 5-3, Rockingham 2-6, Central Carolina 1-6, Vance-Granville 1-7.