CARY — Moriah Smith and the Cary Academy outside hitters overcame Grace Christian’s solid defense in a 25-21, 25-8, 25-12 volleyball sweep on Tuesday at the Cary Academy Fitness Center.
Smith, a senior who has committed to The Citadel, had nine kills and four service aces as the Chargers (2-1) overcame slow starts in the second and third games to put away Grace Christian.
“She’s huge on the front row, and that’s the first thing you see: the hard hitters,” Cary Academy coach Melanie Bryant said. “But to be honest with you, the back row is so important, and she’s so good on the back row. She moves so well, she reads hitters very well, and she’s quick and can chase things down. As much as we need her on the front row, we equally need her in the back row.”
Smith had five kills in the second set as the Chargers rallied from an early 3-1 deficit with point streaks of five, seven and six in a row. The Eagles (2-5) built a 6-1 lead in the third set before Cary Academy closed out the match with 11 consecutive points.
“We can’t put the ball down right now,” Grace Christian first-year coach Megan April said. “That’s the biggest thing, but most of them are under 5-foot-5, so it’s hard to find a big hitter. Finding a hitter has been the big challenge, because we need someone to put the ball away. We have all these amazing digs, and then our setters – who are both freshman – set the ball, and then our hitters roll-shot it over the net. That’s been the biggest thing.”
April, a May graduate of Cornerstone University, is looking for some growth out of her five freshman on the roster, as well as some offensive firepower.
That’s not the issue for Cary Academy, which has plenty of offense at the net from Smith and fellow senior Abby Getz. Getting the hitters the ball, however, is another matter.
“Passing is something that we’re really going to have to focus on,” Bryant said. “When we pass the ball well, the majority of the time we can score.”
But when the Chargers don’t, games can fall apart quickly.
“We get in these moments where it’s not just one bad pass and we can get things back,” Bryant said. “That’s one of the things we’re going to have to start working on: Having a bad pass but then coming right back and making up for that.”
Bryant hopes to build some mental toughness as Cary Academy’s season continues.
“You make a mistake, but you need to have the attitude, ‘I want the ball to come to me again,’ instead of, ‘I don’t know if I want the ball or not,’” Bryant said. “A lot of it is more mental. They know how to pass the ball.”