By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 —
The first-ever Yadkin Valley Conference West volleyball tournament was conducted this week at new YVC member North Stanly.
After two epic five-set battles in the semifinals Tuesday, Albemarle and Gray Stone met in the tournament finals on Wednesday.
Gray Stone 0
The Albemarle Bulldogs volleyball squad has had a long string of recent success in the Yadkin Valley Conference postseason volleyball tournaments.
This season, in the new YVC West, the Bulldogs made it four conference tourney titles in five seasons with a 3-0 win over Gray Stone in the finals Wednesday.
Scores of the match were 30-28, 25-23 and 25-13.
Senior outside hitter Akela Branch had a huge night for the Bulldogs (20-2) with 26 kills and six digs, while the team’s other senior, Samantha Blue, added nine kills and four digs. Libero Caroline Snyder led Albemarle with 10 digs and setter Morgan Smet had a big night with a team-high 34 assists.
The win also breaks a tie for the No. 1 seed from the YVC-West into the state 1A playoff as the Bulldogs and Knights finished with identical 7-1 records and had split their regular-season games in 2013.
Bulldogs head coach Joanne McConlogue said that she was proud of the efforts of her two seniors, Branch and Blue, saying that “I could see their emotional change; they wanted this today.”
McConlogue talked about winning the YVC West tourney title with her young team this year.
“They are so young that they don’t know what it’s like to get this kind of victory. It’s not just about winning but what it feels like to win.”
Albemarle will now host Chatham Central in the opening round of the 1A state playoffs on Saturday.
For Gray Stone (16-2), the Knights will have the No. 2 seed from the YVC West and will host Bishop McGuinness on Saturday at 4 p.m.
North Stanly 3
South Stanly 2
Before the finals Wednesday, the Bulls and Comets staged a play-in game for the third and final guaranteed seed into the state playoffs.
In what would be the third five-set match in a row played in the Comets’ gym, North earned that berth into the playoffs with a 3-2 win over South.
The Comets will be on the road to take on East Surry in the opening round of the 1A playoffs Saturday.
South Stanly received a wild card berth and will play at West Montgomery on Saturday.
North Stanly 2
For the Bulldogs just to reach the YVC West finals, Albemarle had to overcome a serious challenge from third-seeded North Stanly on the Comets’ home floor Tuesday.
The Bulldogs in the fourth set to North, down two sets to one, but rallied to take the fourth set and the fifth set to advance to that championship finals with a 3-2.
Scores of the match were 22-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-22 and 15-11 in favor of Albemarle.
Akela Branch led the Bulldogs with 23 kills while Tales’sha Currie added 12 kills. Samantha Blue led with 17 digs and Morgan Smet had 46 assists.
The Bulldogs won despite 23 service errors in the match.
North Stanly led the fourth set 17-10 before the Bulldogs went on an 8-1 run to tie the game at 18. The two teams tied again at 21 before the Bulldogs scored four of the last five points of the set for the win.
Gray Stone 3
South Stanly 2
The Knights had their own five-set saga to win just to reach the YVC West finals as well against the South Stanly Rebel Bulls.
Despite the efforts of two talented South freshman, the Knights won 3-2 with scores of 22-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21 and 15-10 in favor of Gray Stone.
Freshman Landis Bogle led South (15-8) with 11 kills and three aces, while freshman blocker Cidney Bowers had eight kills and four blocks.