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2-Sweet: Bears repeat as NW1A tourney champs

RONDA — Make it back-to-back Northwest 1A Conference volleyball tournament championships for Mount Airy.

With the 3-0 win over Alleghany in Wednesday night’s tournament final at East Wilkes High School, the Granite Bears won their second-straight tournament crown.

It’s also the first time since 1991 that Mount Airy has won both the regular season and conference tournament championships.

Late in the third set though, the Trojans looked to be on the verge of forcing a fourth set and keeping the match alive as they held a 24-21 advantage, needing just one point to cut Granite Bears’ lead in half.

Shelby Bryant, Mount Airy’s head coach, called timeout in hopes that her players could recollect themselves.

The breather paid off as Kennedy Gwyn recorded a kill and Kinlee Reece served up an ace to tie the match at 24-24.

After an attacking error from Alleghany, Gwyn, who finished with team-high 10 kills, clinched the match and the championship with a well-placed kill.

A back-and-forth third set was tied on nine different occasions and had five lead changes.

Prior to the late rally, No. 2 seed Mount Airy (16-7) held a 20-18 advantage before Trojans scored five of the next six points to set up the exciting finish. An ace from Alleghany’s Brooke Constantino highlighted the run.

Top-seeded Alleghany, which defeated Mount Airy in three sets six days earlier, appeared to have carried the momentum from that match into the opening set.

The Trojans (18-4) scored eight of the first nine points and led 8-1 after a Faith Preston ace.

Phoebe Murray highlighted the opening run with a trio of kills.

Behind the play of Alissa Clabo and tournament most outstanding player Isabella Allen, the Granite Bears clawed back into the match.

Alleghany led by as many as eight at 17-9 before Mount Airy scored 10 of the next 13 points; they cut the deficit to 20-19 after back-to-back aces from Allen. The junior finished a trio of aces to go along with seven kills and 20 digs.

But every time the Granite Bears made a run, the Trojans answered back as they led 23-22 late in the set.

Mount Airy rebounded to take the first set 25-23 behind an ace and a kill from Reece and Gwyn, respectively.

The Granite Bears came out as the aggressors in the second set thanks to a trio of kills from Clabo and Gwyn. Mount Airy scored the set’s first six points and 10 of the first 14.

Back-to-back kills from Zoey Bourne helped spur a 5-0 run from the Trojans to cut the deficit to a point.

Mount Airy was either tied or led throughout the set but couldn’t break away from Alleghany, which tied the set 19-19 after another kill from Bourne.

After a net violation and a kill from Allen gave the Granite Bears the lead back, they capitalized on attacking errors by Alleghany to take a 2-0 advantage with a 25-22 win.

The two squads shared the regular season championship and split the regular matchups (the Granite Bears won in five sets on Sept. 20), but Mount Airy will enter this weekend’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs as the league’s No. 1 seed.

Mount Airy garnered the No. 7 seed and will face fellow conference foe South Stokes on Saturday at 5 p.m. The will face either No. 10 Highlands or No. 23 South Stanly in the second round, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Granite Bears swept the regular season matchups from the Sauras, which included a five-set thriller back on Sept. 1.

Alleghany will go in as the league’s No. 2 seed and earned the No. 11 seed and host No. 22 Corvian Community School.

The Starmount Rams, whom Mount Airy bested in three sets (25-20, 25-18, 28-26) during Tuesday’s semifinal match, also qualified for the 1A playoffs as the No. 19 seed. They will travel to No. 14 Gray Stone Day in the first round.

Notes: In addition MOP Allen, Reece (three blocks, 11 digs and 31 assists) and Morgan Mayfield (35 digs) were all named to the all-tournament team. Constantino and Christa Williams were selected from the Trojans, while Olivia Ray and Sydney Patterson were selected from Starmount and South Stokes, respectively.

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Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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