The difference between victory and defeat often comes down to intangible factors not easily controlled by the competitor and his or her coach.
Such was the case in Ronda Tuesday evening as North Stokes claimed a hard-fought four- set win over East Wilkes in a nonconference volleyball matchup.
“I thought that we played hard and that we were very aggressive (at the net) tonight,” said East Wilkes Head Coach Kassandra Gage. “At times we might have been too aggressive.
“We needed to find the holes at the net at crucial times and we didn’t do a consistent job of getting this done.”
Statistically, Gage’s assessment of her team’s presence at the net is quite valid as the Cardinals amassed 30 kills and two blocks for the match.
Despite this powerful presence, the Vikings back-line, more often than not, seemed to have the answer for whatever Gage’s Cardinals threw at them.
North Stokes (3-4) jumped out to an early three-point lead in the opening set, which they generally maintained until East Wilkes made a run in the middle of this frame.
Trailing 15-13, Aubrey Wallis held serve for five-straight points to give the Cardinals an 18-15 lead.
The Vikings, however, were more consistent in placing the ball where they needed it, and reclaimed the lead before closing out the set with a 25-21 victory.
The second set started much like the first as North Stokes jumped out to an early three-point lead. Haley Graham held serve for four-straight points as East Wilkes built an 8-6 margin of its own.
The Cardinals managed to preserve this advantage for the remainder of the set ultimately claiming a 25-17 victory.
The third set, like the previous two, saw the Vikings quickly build a three-point advantage. Krysta Prevette held serve for five-straight points as the Cardinals took a 9-7 lead.
North Stokes responded with a 13-3 run to create a 20-12 margin, at which point Gage called a time-out to regroup her players. When play resumed, Monica Shaver held serve for six-straight points reducing the deficit to two (20-18).
The Cardinals (1-5) could get no closer. Once again, the more consistent Vikings seemed to take advantage of the intangibles and closed out the set with a 25-21 victory.
North Stokes raced out to a 20-7 lead in the fourth set. Behind the solid serving of Wallis, East Wilkes cut the margin to 23-19 but could get no closer as the Vikings closed out the set with a 25-19 victory.
Wallis had 10 kills, one block and one ace for the evening, while Tara Shaw also had a strong showing at the net with nine kills of her own. Shaver had six kills and Kaybree Martin added five.
“We need more consistency and maybe the breeze to blow our way a little more” added Gage.
The Cardinals faced the North Wilkes Vikings in their first Mountain Valley Athletic Conference match on Thursday in Hays.