FAIRMONT — Despite a second place finish in the Three Rivers Conference last season, the Fairmont volleyball team faced limited road blocks. The Golden Tornadoes finished 18-4, with two losses to conference champion South Columbus, one to Lumberton and one to Wheatmore in the second round of the playoffs.
With only a handful of losses to graduation, expectations for this season are just as high.
“Undefeated. Just straight undefeated,” said Nya Dickens, a junior hitter who is in her second year with the team. “We’re definitely building off last year. We were good last year, this year we’ve had more time … to put it together as a team and click on and off the court and play together as one.”
The team has had limited issues so far, getting its sixth win in a row with a sweep of Lumberton at home on Wednesday. The Golden Tornadoes won 25-17, 25-21, 25-6 and have yet to lose a set in any of those six matches, a span that included two against the Pirates and two against Purnell Swett.
“We knew this would be a rivalry match on our schedule. It’s always a rivalry match when we play Lumberton, no matter what, because we’re only 10 miles down the road,” said Fairmont coach Michael Baker. “Also we wanted to get better because I didn’t think we were sharp enough last time when we played. I didn’t think we were that sharp, I think we were watching the game too much and I challenged them today to play.”
Though Lumberton (0-6) held its own through the first half of each of the first two sets, Fairmont used the Pirates’ hitting errors and got timely hitting to stage late rallies. From a point late in the second set when Lumberton led 20-15, Fairmont scored 35 of the next 42 points to finish the match.
It was a streak that included seven straight to end the second set and 12 in a row early in the third.
“It’s the same thing that’s happened to us all year: we have a game where we break down,” said Lumberton coach Jeff McLamb. “We make four, five, six mistakes and it costs us the match.”
Dickens played a key role in the runs, getting four kills to help end the second set and also contributing in the third. She led Fairmont with six kills and also was one of two players that logged eight digs.
“She’s one of our horses, one of our thoroughbreds, so we had to go to her and when it gets close, we’re looking for her,” Baker said.
Tiffany Hicks had five kills, Chenoa Brooks had five blocks and Reva Locklear had 10 assists. Mariah Lovin added defensively with eight digs.
In the third set, Fairmont started to share the wealth as part of an effort to spread its hitting throughout the court this season, rather than just hitting from the sides.
“That third game we were clicking on all cylinders,” Fairmont Baker said. “We were getting the ball to the setter cleanly, making good passes to the setter and we were hitting. We hit from every angle. We hit from the corner, back, middle, and we want to keep the pressure on them. We want to attack as much as possible.”
Hitting was where the Pirates struggled, with nobody on the team finishing with more than two kills and the team logging eight combined.
“Serving-wise, we played better but we’ve got to start killing the ball,” McLamb said. “We are not hitting it and putting any pressure on the ball.”
It was the last game before Lumberton starts the Southeastern Conference season tonight at Pinecrest. The hitting, McLamb said, will be crucial.
“Things we’ve been working on have been getting better but for us to be successful we need to get more kills,” he said. “Our front row girls have got to start hitting it. We’ve got to average more than five kills a game and that’s what we’re averaging.”
Lumberton tennis tops Hoke
LUMBERTON — The Lumberton tennis team beat Hoke 9-0 on Tuesday to improve to 2-1 this season and 1-1 in conference. The Pirates will play today against Richmond.
Singles results: A. Kinlaw def. T. Jacobs 6-0, 6-0; A. Cain def. A. Osrio 6-0, 6-1; L. Hickman def. A. Pate 6-2, 6-2; K. Leggette def. H. Locklear 6-0, 6-1; I. Floyd def. A. Burret 6-0, 6-1; S. Martin def. M. Maynor 6-0, 6-1. Doubles results: Cain/Kinlaw def. Osrio/Jacobs 8-0, Leggette/H. Biggins def. Locklear/Pate 8-4; E. Stanley/ A. Ard def. Burret/A. Holiday.