Undefeated: Way to Go

Unbeaten Cavs claim SWD Tourney title

Staff photo by Allen Worrell
Carroll County’s volleyball team celebrates Saturday after winning the Southwest District Tournament championship over Abingdon. Team members are: Leanna Rippey, Sarah Singleton, Dionna Reece, Lindsey Poe, Honesty Rogers, Maleah Neely, Amber Cannaday, Kim Caudill, Jessi Goad, Trish Reed and Lauren Roper.
By Allen Worrell, Sports Editor
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 6:19 AM EST
Even by Carroll County’s super volleyball standards, 2008 will always be remembered as a special season. The Cavaliers improved to 22-0 Saturday night and completed the Southwest District sweep with a 25-16, 25-16, 25-20 victory over Abingdon in the SWD Tournament championship game in Hillsville.
But as they’ve done all season, the Cavaliers continued to battle. Maleah Neely threw down a spike to stop the bleeding at 13-7. After another Carroll point, Neely stepped up and blocked a Falcons’ shot for another point to pull within 13-9. An Honesty Rogers ace pulled Carroll to within one, forcing an Abingdon timeout. A Caudill kill capped a 9-0 Cavalier run, giving Carroll a 15-13 advantage.

Abingdon would recover enough to tie the game at 17-all, but the Cavaliers responded with a 5-0 run and eight of the final 11 points to win 25-20 and clinch the district tournament title.

“We played well. We fell down, but we kept saying one point, and we did that. We got ahead and just kept working,” Edwards said. “I thought we played really, really well.”

The first game was tight early, but Carroll went on a 7-0 run to turn a slim 14-12 lead into a 21-12 advantage. Neely put the exclamation point on the win with a spike to ensure the 25-16 victory.

The Cavs fell behind 1-0 in Game 2, but never trailed again after going on a 10-5 run. Abingdon pulled to within 13-12 at one point, but Carroll finished the contest on a 5-0 run.

With the win, the Cavs earned a Region IV home playoff game Nov. 4 against the winner of Patrick County and Marion, a pair of teams Carroll swept in the regular season. With a win there, the Cavs would advance to a Region IV semifinal Thursday at Bassett against the winner of Salem and Bassett. The Region IV championship is set for Saturday, also at Bassett.

“We know what’s ahead. We know what we face from the Three Rivers District, but we will go out and play as hard as we can,” Edwards said. “But who knows? The pressure is not on us. We’ve had a great year, we will keep going and pushing and hope to keep getting better.”

Carroll advanced to the SWD title game by beating Marion for the third time this season, 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, Thursday in Hillsville.

Caudill had a magnificent game, leading the team with four aces, 21 kills, seven blocks and 15 digs. Rippey and Neely each had three aces and 10 digs. Rippey also added six kills, while Neely paced Carroll with 15 kill assists. Sarah Singleton chipped in 10 digs as well.

The future continues to look bright for the Cavalier volleyball program as Carroll won the JV Tournament championship 25-15, 16-25, 15-11 Saturday over Grundy. Kelsey Pickett led the way with 15 serving points, while Kim Marshall added 14. Morgan Dickens had eight service points, Wendy Burcham tallied seven more and Lindsey Davidson had six.

Carroll topped Marion 25-19, 25-19 Thursday to advance to the JV championship game.

Even though the Cavs had won 11 of the past 12 SWD titles prior to this season, this year felt different as Carroll returned just two seniors to an extremely young team that featured six sophomores and three juniors. Head coach Cindy Edwards admitted as much, saying she would have never predicted this team would be a perfect 22-0 at the end of the regular season because of its youth. But she said seniors Kim Caudill and Leanna Rippey deserve a lot of credit for driving this team to reach its potential.

“They have really worked hard and gotten better and better every single game. Their improvement, it is amazing how far they have come,” Edwards said. “Leanna and Kim, their leadership with these young kids, it is just probably the closest-knit team I have had. I think that has a lot to do with it because they get along so well and I think they push each other to get better because of that.”

Carroll was really only threatened once in the three-game sweep Saturday. After controlling the first two games, Carroll quickly fell behind 5-1 in the third. Edwards called a timeout, but the Falcons continued to attack, going ahead 7-1 and 13-6.

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