FAIRMONT — With two evenly matched volleyball teams facing off as Fairmont hosted Lumberton on Wednesday, both coaches knew what set their teams apart in the final score.
Fairmont (1-0) held its own against Lumberton (3-2) and won a tightly-contested, four-set match by scores of 25-22, 23-25, 25-17 and 25-22.
“We had runs, they had runs. When you play two teams that are even, that’s how they’re going to play — a game of runs,” Fairmont coach Michael Baker said. “I think our runs went a little bit longer. That was it.”
“A couple little things kept us out of the big plays. If we do a couple little things right there toward the end — that one play at the end doesn’t make or break the game — but like I told the girls I could think of a dozen other things that would’ve changed the outcome,” Lumberton coach Tre’ Britt said. “Until we start doing the little things right, we aren’t going to win big ballgames or close ballgames.”
Lumberton mounted comebacks in the first two sets as the Lady Golden Tornadoes opened up sizable leads. In the first, the Lady Pirates’ run came too late in the set, but in the second they were able to break the 23-all score with two straight points to claim their only set of the match.
“At times we looked real good. At times we looked real bad,” Britt said. “Volleyball is a game of momentum. If you keep the momentum on your side, it’s amazing how things roll for you. At times, we hit the ball well when we hit the ball down. Then there’s times passing wise we don’t have a clue.”
After shaking off an early lead from Lumberton early in the third set, Fairmont claimed the third set. Both sides traded points in the final set before a late push from Fairmont closed it out.
Working on a new 5-1 system this year, Baker was pleased with how his team fell into the new formation in Wednesday’s season opener.
“I thought it looked pretty good for being the first time out,” Baker said. “We revamped everything. We have new starters and I think the girls did well for the first game.”
Fairmont was led by MacKenzie Johnson as she dished out 12 assists, Maya Bellamy had 10 kills and five blocks, Maya Strickland had six kills and three blocks, Kiara Page had seven kills and five service aces.
Fairmont totaled 14 blocks in the match and disrupted the Lady Pirates offensive attack at the net with long, athletic hitters like London Thompson, Madison Canady, Destiny Hardin and Trinity McBryde.
“We worked on blocking about all summer,” Baker said. “From spring to summer we worked on getting our hands up and making blocks.”
Lumberton was led by Thompson with six kills, Canady with two kills, Erin Maynor with 10 digs and Alyssa Oxendine with three service aces.
“We’ve just got to get things rolling into conference because we need to be hitting on all cylinders, especially when we roll into conference play,” Britt said.
Lumberton plays at Red Springs and Fairmont goes to Purnell Swett on Thursday.
West Bladen routs Purnell Swett soccer
After falling into a hole in the first half, the Purnell Swett soccer team was unable to come from behind at home as West Bladen took a 4-1 win.
The Ram’s lone goal came off the foot of Vidal Velasquez in the second half.
Purnell Swett plays at home against West Columbus on Monday.
Lumberton’s London Thompson, left, has her shot blocked at the net by Fairmont’s Niya Graham (7) and Maya Bellamy (10) during the Lady Golden Tornadoes’ four-set win on Wednesday.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.