South Forsyth volleyball needed a lift Tuesday night. The Lady War Eagles were coming off a disappointing showing at its own mega-volleyball event, the All City Play Date, a showcase of sorts filled with powerhouse teams from around the metro area. Normally a headlining force, South went just 1-3 from equal parts errors, injuries and inexperience in some spots.
South got the lift it needed in wins against Forsyth Central (25-17, 25-10) and North Forsyth (25-12, 25-21) in Area 5-7A matches on the road to extend its winning streak against county opponents to 20 and start strong in area play.
Amanda Nugent led the Lady War Eagles (10-5, 2-0) with 16 kills to go along with 10 digs, while Lily Kincaid had 10 kills and Avery Kline added seven. Savian Jordan (16 digs) and Erin Yeatman (10 digs) led the defense, while setter Olivia Heiser had 25 assists.
Some of the kinks in South’s armor showed against Central (5-15, 0-2), leading just 20-17 in the first set before pulling away for the win. The Lady War Eagles have dealt with a rash of injuries this season, particularly at the middle block. Senior and Auburn commit Shea McNamara has been out all season. Junior Avery Kline came out of South’s match against North with back issues.
Yeatman, the senior libero and North Florida commit, has also dealt with injuries earlier in the season that caused her to miss practice time, and star outside hitter Amanda Nugent has had nagging arm problems.
“We’ve had so many issues,” South head coach Kelly Wren said, “so we’re not where I thought we’d be, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think we can get there. We’re just taking a different path.”
Still, out of some chaos has come some order. Outside hitters Molly Bergin and Hannah McGlockton have gained more experience in McNamara’s absence, and new setters Nyah Pacely and Heiser have had time to develop. And so South has become amorphous, able to become what it needs to be.
That was on display against North, as Wren tweaked her lineup and the Lady War Eagles went on a 15-4 run to clinch the first set. When Kline’s back flared up in the second set, Wren tweaked again. South led by as little as 17-16 but eventually pulled away.
“I think we played well against North,” Wren said. “I don’t think we played as well against Central. We used different lineups for both of those matches, and actually changed them in between sets. We’re working on figuring out what our identity needs to be most successful.”
North salvaged its night with a redemptive performance against Central. The Lady Raiders (15-5, 1-1) let six Central errors give them a 7-2 lead, then relatively cruised the rest of the way, thanks in part to some dominant serves from Bri Gilbert (10 kills, four aces).
“We didn’t even breathe the word South,” North co-head coach Kelly Cecil said. “Central was next; we respect them as much as we respect South. …. They responded coming into that first set.”
Central, meanwhile, celebrated Senior Night for Emma Gore, Morgan Liffers, Taliyah Manning and Sarah Moran, and found hope in those single sets against both North and South in which the Lady Bulldogs pushed both teams to the brink.
“What I want them to take away from this is confidence, because they are playing point for point with some of the better teams in the state,” Central head coach Brian Welsh said. “Our record right now doesn’t necessarily show how hard we are working and the gains we are making, but I see it. If things continue to work in the direction they’re moving in right now, October could be exciting.