Murphy volleyball rolls into rematch with top-ranked Robbinsville

  • Hayesville’s Halle Johnson (20) could use a hand as Murphy’s Grace Nelson looks for a kill. Photo by Noah Shatzer
    Hayesville’s Halle Johnson (20) could use a hand as Murphy’s Grace Nelson looks for a kill. Photo by Noah Shatzer
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    Hayesville – After a few weeks of coping with key injuries, the Murphy Lady Bulldogs volleyball team finally returned to full strength this past week.
    With senior Madison Worley and junior Grace Nelson back on the floor for the Lady Dogs, Murphy opened up the week with an assertive straight-set victory against the Cherokee Lady Braves.
    Murphy breezed by Cherokee 25-8 in the first set, then cleaned up in the second and third sets 25-11 and 25-10.
    The Lady Dogs then traveled to Hayesville to take on the Lady Jackets, who proved to be a nice litmus test for Murphy.
    Murphy downed Hayesville in straight sets, but the match was closer than the 3-0 final score revealed.
    The Lady Dogs opened up with a strong first set, claiming the set 25-18 with their full rotation healthy and on the floor.
    Murphy turned up the heat even higher in the second set, downing the Lady Jackets 25-16 to take a two-set lead.
    Hayesville refused to go out swinging, making a last-ditch run at the Lady Bulldogs in the third set, but Murphy managed to edge out the Lady Jackets 25-23 for the victory.
    “A lot better,” Murphy coach Nikol Edwards said of the feeling of having the team at full strength once again. “You know, when everybody is out there it’s just more comfortable for them. They mesh really well and for the first part of the season, that was our routine. So losing Madison there for a while and then losing Grace, that just kind of threw us out of our routine.
    “But we coped really well with it, it’s just good to have everybody back.”
    Murphy (14-2) defeated Smoky Mountain on Monday night, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, then dispatched Nantahala on Tuesday night after the Cherokee Scout's press time.
    With just eight games remaining until the Smoky Mountain Conference Tournament, Edwards wants her team to continue to work on their mentality.
    “A big part of it is just mentality,” Edwards said. “We’ve talked about that a lot this season. It’s high school girls, it’s something you just have to continue to work on with them.
    The Lady Bulldogs get a rematch with conference-leading Robbinsville on Thursday night, with junior varsity action beginning at 5 p.m. followed by the varsity game.