Lady Tigers’ overall defense comes up big in 3-0 sweep of county rival Hickory for ‘Senior Night’

Foard volleyball seniors (from L-R): Sarah Lingle (14), Haley Johnston (3), Martina Foster (20), Trinity Tramel (18), Lyndsie Warren (4) and head coach Meredith Lombardi. (O-N-E photo by Brian Hendrix)
By: 
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

It was a special night for athletes and fans alike on Tuesday night inside of Jerry Copas Gymnasium on Linda Richards Court as the Fred T. Foard varsity volleyball team battled Hickory.

It was indeed a splendid occasion as the Lady Tigers recognized its five senior members prior to the match which included: middle blocker Martina Foster, right side Trinity Tramel, libero Lyndsie Warren, as well as setters Sarah Lingle and Haley Johnston.

“The senior class holds a very, very special place in my heart,” said Foard head coach Meredith Lombardi. “They were the first freshman class when it was my first year here. The way that they have just adapted, the way that they have just stepped up as leaders, the way that they just get after it every day. You could see in their play tonight how dominant they were. We really feed off that as a team.”

On this night, the visiting Lady Red Tornadoes attempted to crash Foard’s party in part 2 of the season series. In its first encounter, the Lady Tigers secured the tightly-contested 3-0 victory with set scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 25-22 on Sept. 15.

Hickory (11-8, 7-6 WFAC) entered this match against its Catawba County rival hoping to earn a much needed win while the Lady Tigers (19-2, 12-1 WFAC) were looking to be one step closer to a share of the Western Foothills 3A Conference regular-season title with North Iredell.

Fortunately for the home team, it collected yet another 3-0 sweep over the Lady Red Tornadoes with set scores of 25-11, 25-12 and 25-9.

“It’s always like the Foard-Hickory [rivalry]. It’s always like that. Hickory wants to beat us, we want to beat Hickory. We’re so close down the road,” said Lombardi.

In the victory, the upper-classmen showed out, especially the seniors. Foster garnered 10 kills, five blocks, three aces and even an assist in the winning effort. Furthermore, Johnston earned a team-best 20 assists, setting up her teammates nicely, along with three aces and eight digs.

Furthermore, Warren amassed 13 digs of her own defensively as she stopped Hickory’s leader in kills Taylor Rose time and time again. Junior defensive specialist Natigan Crutchfield also aided in this effort with eight digs. The blocking up front from Tramel also aided in controlling the flow of Rose’s offense at times as she obtained six blocks on the right side.

As for Rose, she entered Tuesday’s match with a team-high 243 kills on the season. She was held to eight kills unofficially. The blocking up front from Foster, Tramel, as well as junior middle blocker Averie Dale (who finished with five kills and four blocks), would be too much for her this go around.

“We knew who we needed to stop, and that’s who we were serving to; that’s who we were being aggressive with. Our block up there did a really good job of taking some stuff from her [Taylor Rose],” said Lombardi. “She got her hits when she needed to, and that’s great.

“She’s a great player, but that block really stepped up and got the touches that we needed. [They] got the blocks that they were supposed to get, and that fuels us. Anyone gets really excited when Averie and Martina stuff someone so that got us going.”

The Lady Tigers opened up the first set with a 2-0 lead following a block from Foster, along with a kill from junior outside hitter Maya Beatty. Beatty corralled a team-high 11 kills, eight digs and a trio of aces on the serve.

Rose put a halt to the early run with a kill of her own before a double hit error cost the Lady Red Tornadoes a point, 3-1 lead for Foard.

The Lady Tigers scored eight of the next 10 points including a pair of kills and an ace from Foster, as well as a kill apiece from Dale and junior outside hitter Laney Craig. Craig garnered eight kills and a pair of blocks on the night. It led 11-3 at the time.

Foard continued to have a stronghold over Hickory in the opening set as it scored six of the next 10 points. On this run, Dale obtained a kill while Beatty earned two more kills, leading 17-7.

The Lady Tigers closed out the set on an 8-4 run which included a kill and an ace from Foster, a kill from Craig, along with a kill from sophomore outside hitter/right side Taylor Ramseur on an assist by Warren. For the Lady Red Tornadoes, Rose collected another kill while junior middle hitter Ellie Eichman earned a kill of her own.

The set ended on a service error from freshman outside hitter Olivia Foster with Foard taking it, 25-11.

Hickory opened the second set with the first point on a kill from Rose. Nevertheless, Foard rallied to score seven straight points, leading 7-1. On this run, Johnston earned an ace while Foster and Beatty obtained a kill each. Foster also had one of her five blocks.

The Lady Tigers continued to lead the way as it went on an 8-2 run which included a spurt of six consecutive points. Foster garnered a block, a kill and an assist to Tramel while Warren and Beatty collected an ace each to lead 15-3.

Foard followed up with two more points on a kill from Craig assisted by Johnston, as well as a block from Dale. The Lady Tigers finished this set scoring 8 of the final 17 points.

Dale had another block, Beatty earned another kill while Foster collected a block and the set point via a kill, 25-12. Rose managed to obtain two more kills for Hickory to close it out.

In the third and final set, it was essentially all Foard. It began things with a quick 10-2 lead thanks to a kill apiece from Foster, Beatty, Craig, Tramel, Johnston and Dale. Dale also corralled a pair of blocks. Rose was able to get one kill during this run, though.

The Lady Tigers scored five of the next 10 points to lead, 15-7. A couple of kills from Dale including one on an assist from Lingle, along with a kill from Foster and a few Hickory errors, led the run for the home team.

Foard closed out the final set on a 10-2 run which ended the same way it did in the second set: with a straight line kill from Foster, 25-9.

The Lady Tigers are looking at a share of the Western Foothills 3A Conference regular-season title with North Iredell heading into conference tournament play on Monday, Oct. 18.

These two are the favorites to play once more in the conference tournament championship on Wednesday, Oct. 20, and the two split with one another during the season.

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