The Lady Flyers are now 16-1!
Sep 25, 2017
If the name Paige Garner was still ringing in the ears of supporters of the Patrick Henry Community College volleyball team as they returned to Martinsville, Va. Saturday night it would be understandable.
Heins Gymnasium announcer Jeff Garner (no relation) repeated it again and again over a period of about four hours as the Sandhills Community College middle hitter recorded 15 kills in the first half of the doubleheader sweep over the two-time Region X champions and 17 in the second.
Freshmen outside hitters Katelyn Lisenby and Brooke Sayers, with a combined total of 27 kills for the afternoon, were also among those benefiting from the 28 assists in the opening match, and 33 in the second, by freshman setter Abby Wallace.
The Lady Flyers emerged from the battle between two teams previously unbeaten in conference play with an overall record of 16-1 and a 6-0 mark in Region X. Ranked No. 8 in the NJCAA national poll, they have yet to lose a set in conference play after winning the two matches by scores of 25-22, 25-10 and 25-11, and then 25-20, 25-12 and 25-23.
The Patriots, who were 33-1 in conference matches over the past two-plus seasons, dropped to 4-7 and 4-2.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Flyers’ coach Alicia Riggan said afterward. “Our hitting percentage today was off the charts. We have been kind of harping on Paige and Abby connecting and I think they figured it out tonight.
“It was exciting to see Paige back in her groove. In the last game she had 17 kills on 21 attacks with no hitting errors.”
Backed by another good crowd on Camp Day at the Hangar, the Flyers took the first set of the day 25-22 before putting together an almost mistake free second one. Tee’Ashia Lilly was on the service line for six points in a row, and Sayers for seven, as they jumped out to a 15-2 lead. It ended up at 25-10 as Garner got credit for kills on the last three points.
After winning the third set 25-11, the Flyers were halfway there.
“I’m not a coach that likes to run up the score, but I wanted a tone to be set,” Riggan said. “We were in such a good groove I didn’t want to change anything.”
A bit of a ragged stretch left the home team holding a 21-20 lead in the first set of the second match before two kills each by Sayers and Garner closed it out. But after the Flyers won the second 25-12, the Patriots threatened to prolong the afternoon when they took an 18-8 lead in the third.
It was 18-9 when Wallace went to the service line and remained there for nine points in a row, including two aces. On three of Garner’s four kills in a row that knotted up the set at 18-18, she rushed up to the net and provided the assist. It was tied for the last time at 23-23 before the Flyers completed the double sweep.
Although remaining a powerful force at the net, the 5-foot-11 Garner’s kill production was down from the same period a year ago when she earned first team all-region honors.
“I think we just finally came together and got in sync,” Garner said with Wallace standing beside her. “And I think with her jump set it took the block off me so then I could put the ball down. Abby is a big part of my success. We couldn’t do what we do without each other.”
“We clicked together a lot today,” added Wallace, who was also credited with 12 digs in each match. “My sets were good. Her balls were going down.”
The team kill percentage (kills minus errors divided by total attacks) of .384 in the opener, and .326 in the second, were both better than in any other match this season and all but one last season. Garner had 32 kills on 47 attacks overall for the day. Sayers was 16 for 35 and Lisenby was 11 for 25. Libero Erica Groff had 11 digs in the first match and 13 in the second.
“It was great to have the girls take care of business and have such a great crowd on a Saturday,” Riggan said.
The Flyers continue their pursuit of a conference regular season title with a 7 p.m. match at Vance-Granville on Tuesday. Then come three matches against Division II teams with winning records at the Pitt Bulldog Classic on Friday and Saturday.
Participants in team’s volleyball camp were introduced with each of the Lady Flyer players and coaches before the match. Eliza Hage from West Pine Middle School (6th grade) sang the National Anthem.