SMITHFIELD — With a battle against fellow unbeaten Two Rivers 3A Conference Triton on the horizon, Corinth Holders volleyball served notice that it was ready to meet that challenge.
That notice was served via a 3-0 thumping of county and conference rival Smithfield-Selma Thursday evening.
The Pirates used their serving to offset and disrupt the Spartans defense in their 25-12, 25-14, 25-17, triumph.
Among those serves were 17 aces enabling the Pirates’ win, who improved to 10-1 overall and 4-0 in the league.
Seven of those aces came in the first set, which helped the Pirates set the tone for the remainder of the match.
Locked in an 11-11 standoff, Lexi Consiglio delivered an ace to push the Pirates into the lead it never relinquished. Behind Consiglio’s serves, Corinth Holders expanded the margin to 18-11, closing the run with her second ace.
After a kill from the Spartans’ Morgan Eatmon put that run to an end, Lindsay Alford posted consecutive kills for a 20-12 cushion.
Kelly Ammons closed out the match with six consecutive service points, including Alford’s second kill and two aces – the second ending the set.
“We’ve been working on serving seams, serving short and serving deep,” said Pirates coach Charles Riley. “And making other teams have to dig and make them struggle with serve receive.”
Riley credited Ammons and Cole Narron with their service games, but it was all six of his players who kept the Spartans guessing.
In the second set, the Pirates jumped out to a 13-3 lead on two aces from Ammons, who added three more aces in building the margin to 21-9 before Corinth Holders closed out the game.
It wasn’t serving alone, though, that carried the Pirates to their seventh consecutive win.
The front line hitters, consisting of Alford, Narron, Samantha Payne, Katelynn Leach and Cyarra Pearson, used a trio of setters to keep constant pressure on the Spartans.
That trio of setters – Ammons, Payne and Nicole Vance – have all been working with the front line hitters on different looks to confuse the opposition as to where, from whom and what type of attack is coming.
“We made adjustments as to where we want to hit the ball,” Riley said. “And working on our timing with our setters and our hitters.
“We’re doing different things in practice and during matches, so in the future we can work on these things and use them when it really matters the most.”
Spartans coach Chase Crocker said his team knew going into the Two Rivers 3A Conference was going to be “pretty tough.”
“Especially with only the top three teams getting playoff spots,” Crocker said. “Traditional powers like Triton and South Johnston coming in, Corinth Holders much improved, Cleveland looks good and Western Harnett threw something at us the other day we had never seen before – you can’t have an off night in this conference.”
Crocker said the service game of the Pirates threw off the Spartans.
“They made us move around a lot,” Crocker said. “They didn’t seem to have a lot of people with a lot of aces, but we knew they could serve.
“And they were accurate. They kept us moving throughout the match, and we knew that was going to happen.”
Crocker said his team needs to continue to work on receiving serves.
“It’s put us in a lot of holes that we haven’t been able to get out of all season,” Crocker said.
Despite the shutout outcome, Crocker was upbeat about the Spartans’ effort and beamed about their third-set rally, which saw the Spartans battle back from a 12-point deficit to within 6 before kills by Alford and Rachel Bailey closed the match.
“We battled,” Crocker said. “We’re always going to battle you to the last point.”