CLAYTON — Cleveland volleyball coach Megan Morris spent a lot of practice time recently focusing on her team’s service game. On Tuesday evening at Cleveland, it helped serve up a Rams sweep of Southern Wayne.
The Rams used consistently low, hard serves to keep the Saints on the defensive from the start and went on to a 25-14, 25-12, 25-12 victory over Southern Wayne.
“We’ve been working on serves at practice,” said Morris, who team improved to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in the Eastern Carolina 3A Conference with the league victory. “That has probably been our main focus because early on we were missing a lot of serves. That was one of our improvements for this week.”
It was a group effort for the Rams.
In the first game, Krista Haschke had 11 serves and four aces and was the server when the Rams scored eight straight points and pulled away from a 4-4 tie to go up 12-4.
In the second game, Courtney Morris, the coach’s daughter, had 11 serves and three aces. With the Rams up 16-11, Morris started a service run that included a couple of aces and pushed the score to 24-11.
The third-game service star was Hope Medlin, who opened the game serving and did not stop until the Rams had built a 10-0 lead.
“I think with our team I can stick anybody in there and they are going to do their job,” Coach Morris said. “That was the case tonight.”
It’s a matter of consistency and a relaxed mindset when serving, Courtney Morris said. “Our serves have gotten more consistent,” said the junior. “You just have to not think about it, do your normal thing. We can be consistent a lot of times. Other times, we can get off. That’s just volleyball. Today, we were very consistent.”
Courtney Ireland led the way at the net for Cleveland with 10 kills. And she credited the strong service game with helping the offense click.
“It helped out so much,” Ireland said of the consistent serving. “It made it easier for us to have time to set up and attack the ball.”
For Cleveland, a third-year school, the goal is to improve each season. In the volleyball team’s first two years, it did just that.”
“The first year the school opened up we came in fifth [in the conference],” coach Morris said. “Last year we came in fourth and each year we try to take a step up. That is our goal.”
The Rams made the playoffs last year and Ireland thinks that a postseason repeat is possible.
“I think we have gotten a lot better this year,” said Ireland, a senior. “I want to get to playoffs and get far in playoffs.”
Southern Wayne dropped to 1-6 overall, 0-2 in the conference.
“We shanked a few passes off their serve,” Southern Wayne coach Courtney Bell said. “But it was also their attack. They had very good hitters. [Courtney Ireland] hit corners really well and our coverage broke down. They just kept coming at us.”