Smithfield: Sports

Corinth Holders solid in Two Rivers 3A Conference debut

South Johnston's ChyAnn Kethcum (18) dinks the ball over Corinth Holders Cole Narron (12) and Lindsey Alford (left).
South Johnston's ChyAnn Kethcum (18) dinks the ball over Corinth Holders Cole Narron (12) and Lindsey Alford (left). JOHNNY JOHNSON

The number in its conference designation may have changed but so far, not much else has for Corinth Holders volleyball team.

The Pirates capped a two-win week – its first in the new Two Rivers 3A Conference – with a four-set road win over South Johnston (25-14, 23-25, 25-12, 25-17) Thursday. It was the ideal league play start for a club that went deep into the 2A playoffs last season.

Corinth Holders (8-1 overall, 2-0 conference) didn’t roll up huge statistical numbers against the Trojans (5-5, 0-2) but they never led the host Trojans sustain any momentum in the match.

“We’ve been working on doing stuff in a row, so if you’re doing that, you’re controlling the momentum,” said Corinth Holders coach Charles Riley. “We try to keep our focus forward. The next play, the next ball up.”

The Pirates took advantage of good serving in the first set to pull out to a 16-6 lead on the serves of Samantha Payne and Cyarra Pierson. Corinth Holders totaled five aces in the opening set, while giving up no aces to South.

The second set saw South turn that advantage around with three aces in a 25-23 victory. The Trojans built a 12-5 lead with that 12th point coming on an ace from Madison Byrd.

Big hits from ChyAnn Kethcum down the stretch pulled South back even. Kethcum pushed South’s lead to 24-22 with a cross-court blast to the back service line, then notched the set-winner when her kill deflected out of bounds off of the double block attempt by the Pirates.

But the Trojans’ service troubles returned in the third set as Pierson rolled off three straight aces to put Corinth Holders up 17-4 en route to a 13-point decision in the third set.

“We missed serves crucial times and they were consistent with their serve,” said South Johnston coach Matthew Adams. “Their serve against our serve receive, we were too inconsistent.”

Corinth Holders totaled 11 aces on the night, while South had just five.

The Pirates’ attack ramped up in the fourth set, which opened with a pair of early Lindsay Alford kills. After South had pulled even at 6, Pierson rolled off six straight service points to take control of the deciding set.

“I thought we controlled the ball very well for most of the match,” Riley said. “We were aggressive on most of our shots.”

“Lexi (Consiglio), our libero was really solid. Not only in getting the ball up but getting it to our setter and Cole Narron really did a good job on the outside with a variety of shots.”

Narron registered multiple cross-court kills at the net for the Pirates, who will meet Cleveland and Smithfield-Selma this week.

“3A is tough, we were really challenged by Western Harnett (in a Sept. 10 win) and South Johnston this week and we’ve still got Cleveland, Triton and Smithfield-Selma to go,” Riley said. “It’s going to be really important to play well every night, especially on the road.”

The loss capped a tough three-match week for the Trojans, who were swept by Clayton on Sept. 9 then fell to perennial 3A power Triton a day later.

“We’ve been talking about two weeks leading up to this that this was the week we were going to find out what we’re made of,” Adams said. “We played three one-loss teams. You like to play good competition and hopefully you get better against that type of competition.

“These were real measuring stick games. Now we know where we need to be to the next time we see these teams.”