By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Friday, October 19, 2012 —
The Yadkin Valley Conference volleyball regular season was dominated this year by the West Montgomery Warriors, who posted a perfect 16-0 conference record and will be the No. 1 seed from the YVC in the 1A state playoffs starting Saturday.
Entering Wednesday’s YVC tournament finals at host Albemarle, the Warriors had run off 20 straight wins, with their last loss coming Aug. 15 in non-conference action against Union Pines.
For the past several seasons, the fate of the YVC titles have been battled for between the Bulldogs and the Warriors as both teams have staged epic battles on the court.
West Stanly 3
North Stanly 2
This year’s YVC finals will go down as another classic between the two programs as Albemarle earned a 3-1 win over West Montgomery with two sets going to extra points.
Scores of the match were 30-28, 21-25, 26-24 and 25-15 in favor of the Bulldogs (19-5), who earned a home playoff match on Saturday with their wins over the Warriors and over No. 2-seeded Gray Stone in the semifinals.
Akela Branch continued her case for Player of the Year honors with another solid game, posting 22 kills, 10 digs, two blocks and two aces.
Alex Potter added a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs, while Tasmin Mack and Samantha Blue had five kills each. Morgan Smet had 39 assists for the Bulldogs and Anna Yang added 11 digs.
The two teams battled back and forth in the first set and needed to go well past the 25-point mark to settle the first set, with the Bulldogs claiming a 30-28 win.
West Montgomery (21-2) led by as many as seven points in the second set and missed on three game points before finally winning the second set 25-21.
In the third set, both teams were even in the early going, including a 9-9 tie, before a 10-3 run by the Bulldogs forced a Warriors’ time out. West Montgomery pulled into a 23-23 tie but a Branch kill from the backline made it 24-23. Latoya Cuthrell forced extra points with a tip to make it 24-24 and the Bulldogs got an ace and a kill to win 26-24.
West Montgomery lead 5-2 early in the fourth set but an 11-4 Albemarle run led to a 25-16 win and the match.
Albemarle head coach Joanne McConlogue talked about approaching the game one point at a time, saying, “We had to discuss last night that it is not about revenge if you are down 0-2, although it seems personal.”
The Bulldog coach added that last night’s win against Gray Stone “was pure determination.”
Albemarle will host a playoff game Saturday starting at either 5 or 6 p.m.
Gray Stone 2
Albemarle reached the finals of the YVC with a 3-2 win over Gray Stone.
Scores of the match were 22-25, 27-25, 14-25, 25-15 and 15-10 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Akela Branch led the Bulldogs with 32 kills and 12 digs, with Alex Potter adding 12 kills and 19 digs. Morgan Smet had 52 assists in the win.
Gray Stone will earn the No. 3 seed out of the Yadkin Valley Conference for the postseason and will be on the road Saturday in the opening round of the 1A playoffs.