Bulldogs advance to third round with win over North Stanly
Murphy – I guess you could say the Murphy Lady Bulldogs got their swagger back.
Bouncing back from a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Robbinsville Lady Knights in the Smoky Mountain Conference Championship, the Lady Bulldogs (23-3) downed the No. 25 seeded North Stanly Lady Comets (15-13) 3-1 Tuesday night in the Dog Pound to advance to the third round of the 2019 1A State Volleyball Championship.
While the Lady Comets' 15-12 record and No. 25 seeding coming into the match suggested the team may not be as strong as the teams the Lady Dogs had faced this season, the reality was that North Stanly was "unofficially" a 26-1 team that would've vied for a top-seed if they had not been forced to forfeit their first eleven games of the season (all wins) due to violations regarding transfer paperwork of a number of athletes.
But Murphy and Coach Nikol Edwards were ready for the Lady Comets and got back to what the Lady Dogs do best.
Hit the ball.
And hit it hard.
"The past few games, it's kinda felt like we've gone away from what we do," Edwards said after the Lady Dogs' win. "So we've talked about that a lot, practiced it a lot. Our thing is we hit the ball. We have so many people that can hit the ball and hit it well and we have to utilize that. So we did, and that's the outcome against a very good team."
The Lady Dogs opened up strong, leading the Lady Comets 15-11 midway through the first set.
But North Stanly stormed its way back in the set and tied the match at 16-16 before claiming the opening set 25-22.
The second set saw both teams trading rallies before North Stanly took a 22-17 and looked to jump ahead Murphy by two sets.
However, the Lady Bulldogs, powered by strong play at the net by its front line, rallied back to tie the set at 22-22, finishing with an 8-0 run to claim the set 25-22 and tie the match at one set a piece.
"One of our goals, and we work on this all the time in practice, is getting multiple points in a row," Edwards said. "Like, when you get to that 20th point, you've gotta finish the ball game. And they did, they played their hearts out."
Murphy's hot hitting carried over into the third set, which saw the Lady Dogs jump ahead early and continue to hammer down on North Stanly throughout the set.
After a handful of breath-taking rallies, the Lady Dogs closed out the set with 25-18 set win and looked to close out the match in the fourth.
Murphy picked up where they left off to open the fourth set, pulling ahead early.
North Stanly refused to go away without a fight and clawed its way back to tie the set at 16-16.
The Lady Comets would pull ahead 23-21, but a quick Murphy run tied the set at 23-23.
A costly net violation against the Lady Comets gave the Lady Dogs a 24-23 lead before senior Hailey Bowman finished off North Stanly with a resounding spike that sent the Murphy crowd into a frenzy.
With the win against North Stanly, the Lady Bulldogs will now travel to face a familiar foe in the No. 1-seeded Robbinsville Lady Knights on Thursday, Oct. 31 for the chance to advance to the Elite Eight.
"They didn't see the real Murphy team the last time we played them," Edwards said of the impending rematch with the Lady Knights. "So I'm really hoping they get a chance to actually see who we are."
Bulldogs downed in conference title game
Murphy – After falling to the Robbinsville Lady Knights in the Smoky Mountain Conference Championship, the Murphy Lady Bulldogs found themselves penciled in as the ninth seed in the Class 1A volleyball tournament.
The Lady Dogs were slated to host No. 24 Union Academy in the opening round on Saturday, but a forfeit by the Lady Cardinals awarded Murphy a free “bye” in the first round.
The Lady Bulldogs hosted No. 25 seed North Stanly after the Cherokee Scout’s press time Tuesday afternoon.
An updated story following the match will be posted online.
“Our ‘bye’ was very unexpected,” Murphy head coach Nikol Edwards said. “I hated not being able to play, but sometimes circumstances are just out of your hands. There was nothing we could do about it, but it has allowed us some extra rest after a very long week .”
The Lady Comets, who finished with an 11-12 record in the regular season, were forced to forfeit their first eleven games of the season, all of which were wins, after failing to correctly submit transfer paperwork for five athletes before the season.
Andrews, HD fall
The Andrews Lady Wildcats traveled to the northern tip of the state to take on No. 2 seeded East Surry. The Lady Cats, who snuck into the playoffs as the No. 31 seed, fell to the Lady Cardinals in three sets 25-9, 25-11 and 25-8.
The Hiwassee Dam Lady Eagles also qualified for the playoffs, earning the No. 22 seed and traveling to the Community School of Davidson for the opening round.
The Lady Eagles fell to the 2017 1A Class Champion Lady Spartans in straight sets – 25-11, 25-12 and 25-13 – to end their season.