This season, Wake Forest has played two freshmen setters on its volleyball team.
That’s pretty young.
Tuesday night, the Cougars were left with one of the first-year setters and an upperclassmen who hadn’t set all year.
The lack of offensive control helped Sanderson handily sweep Wake Forest, 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-18).
“We were down four kids. We had to work and fight against ... being down,” Wake Forest coach Scott Love said. “We’re a better team than our record indicates. We’re just not consistent enough. I thought we played hard, I thought we competed. It was just that consistency. That’s something we’re going to have to deal with, especially with the younger kids.”
The Cougars (0-7, 0-2 Cap-8) showed signs of life in Set 2, gaining a five-point lead on the visitors.
But the Spartans (7-1, 2-0) rallied for 12 unanswered points to claim the set. They broke up an 18-18 tie when Sydney Koch sent down a kill from setter Fallon Stephens. Stephens led the game with 17 assists, while Georgianna Darch had five for Wake Forest.
“When we end our practice, we do game play and I always put us down,” Sanderson coach Pam Tart said about her team’s will to stave off the Cougars in the second set. “We’re never ahead, because we can do whatever we need to ahead. I told them how effective it is. When we took a timeout while we were down, I told them this is just like practice: you push ahead.
“They ended up fighting.”
The Cougars offered one last burst of momentum in Set 3. Hannah Harris and Jordan Woodard shared a block and Darch’s ace landed in the front row to round off four consecutive Wake Forest points. Sanderson freshman Drew James’ kill broke the cycle.
She served up a string of points near the end of the final set, her last falling short of the net. James looked up at the scoreboard, wincing when she realized the Spartans were four points away from claiming the match.
“I did look up because I was trying to see how much I had to serve and how close it was,” James said. “Since I got a couple of them short earlier, I was trying to do that. But I hit it too short, and that was OK.”
Three who mattered
Drew James, Sanderson: She was the only Spartan to play in the full rotation. She led the game with three aces. She had back-to-back aces to create some separation in Set 1.
Fallon Stephens, Sanderson: She led the game with 17 assists, spreading her sets to six hitters.
Molly Northcutt, Wake Forest: She led the Cougars with seven digs. She improvised and stepped up to set on several plays.
By the numbers
12: Sanderson’s unanswered points to win the second set.
19: Sanderson libero Lindsey Worley’s game-leading digs
8: Different Spartans who recorded at least one kill
6: Straight points Sanderson scored to open Set 2 before Wake Forest rallied to a five-point lead
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan