FAIRMONT — It hasn’t been the easiest season for the Fairmont volleyball team, which entered Thursday’s game against Red Springs with just one win after it was Robeson County’s only state playoff qualifier just last year.
But the Golden Tornadoes have continued to work, coach Michael Baker said, and that work paid off with a 3-0 win over the Red Devils in Thursday’s home Southeastern Athletic Conference match.
“Even though we’re not having a great season, the girls are still working hard. I have to commend the girls, every day, they come back the next day and they’re ready to work,” Baker said. “Generally when you don’t win a lot of games, you have girls that quit; not a single one has even had an idea (of quitting).
“Sometimes life can be tough; you’ve still got to finish. It may not be the outcome that you want, but you’ve still got to continue to work.”
Fairmont (2-12, 2-4 Southeastern) dominated the first two sets; the third was closer, but a key run earned the Golden Tornadoes the win in that set as well.
“We got it to the people that needed to get it,” Baker said. “We did a good job passing; we did a better job passing tonight than we’ve been. Tonight I think the girls were really focused on passing.”
Red Springs (2-10, 0-6 Southeastern) led 7-4 early in the first set; an 8-2 run gave Fairmont a 12-9 lead. After Red Springs pulled even again at 12-12, Fairmont used a 12-2 run to create permanent separation with a 24-14 lead, winning 25-15.
Fairmont took a 7-1 lead in the second set and Red Springs was never again closer than a three-point deficit; from a 14-9 Golden Tornadoes lead, a 10-3 stretch made it 24-12 before Fairmont won 25-14.
“We showed a little bit more heart, but we’ve still got a long way to go. And our starting setter is hurt,” said Jaynell Brown, Red Springs’ acting head coach in Nicole Strickland’s absence. “The only thing I can say is we don’t move our feet and we do not communicate, and that hurts us a lot. We’re a lot better than what we show.”
Red Springs led the third set 12-7 before Fairmont came back to tie the set at 13-13; then, during the serve of Lindsey Floyd, Fairmont turned a 14-13 Red Springs lead into their own 20-14 advantage with a seven-point run. Red Springs nearly pulled even, but when the Red Devils got within a point at 21-20, the Golden Tornadoes scored the next three points and four of the next five to win the set 25-21 and clinch the match.
“(Floyd) is one of our top servers,” Baker said. “She hits a really good serve, a really low ball. We were able to make separation several times when she came into serve, because she was able to get us going. The game is serve and receive; there’s other stuff too, but you’ve got to be able to serve well and receive well.”
Floyd had five aces for Fairmont; Payton Gall had four aces and eight assists. Hannah Hunt and Anastasia Andujar each had five kills, Stalasia Chavis had four kills and Celeste Radford had four assists.
Thursday’s game was the completion of the first run through conference play in the double-round-robin regular-season format. Both teams play St. Pauls next; Fairmont hosts the Bulldogs on Tuesday and Red Springs travels to St. Pauls on Thursday.
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.