The sport of volleyball can sometimes be as simple as which team is better in the service game. For Salem, that couldn’t have been more evident than on Tuesday night.
The Seminoles had 22 service aces and took advantage of sloppy service play from visiting Putnam County in a 2-0 victory in non-area competition.
Putnam County held a slim, 9-8 advantage in game two, and it was tied a moment later after Autumn Calhoun’s service error. That’s where Salem and libero Salemah Mitchell briefly took control. Mitchell picked up five consecutive aces, part of a 12-ace game for the Seminoles, and later, Alexus Holloway’s ace made it a 17-11 contest.
Putnam County didn’t quit and went on a run of its own, scoring the next six points - Skyler Dodd had an ace and Faith Bullard a kill during the spurt - and it was all even at 17-17.
Salem, which won the second game 25-21, re-took the lead for good on a Putnam County error and three more aces - one each from Brittney Kilgore, Simone Gadson and Tamoi Robinson - and held off a late charge by the visitors from Eatonton, who had gotten to within one point on two occasions.
The host Seminoles broke open a tight game one with a 10-3 run, and thanks to two aces each from Robinson and Brielle Reed and one from Mitchell, led 19-11. Putnam County, which had eight of its 13 service errors in game one, climbed to within 22-16 late, but Salem got the last of its 10 aces, this one coming from Savoy Lovett to close out a 25-17 victory.
Woodland (Stockbridge) swept two games from Salem in the first match of the night.
In game two, Salem trailed early, at 9-7, thanks to a block-kill and an ace from Woodland’s Peri Staples. The Seminoles went on an 8-2 run as Kilgore registered an ace and a kill, giving the hosts what turned out to be their largest lead of the match at 15-11. It was tight the rest of the way with neither team securing more than a two-point lead, though Salem had a game-point situation at 24-22. The visiting Wolfpack got a Bria Rivers-to-Samaria Henry hook up for a kill and a Salem error to pull even at 24-24, but again the Seminoles set up game-point after Woodland’s Erin Abbott picked up a service error.
Salem wouldn’t score again as Autumn DaCosta had consecutive kills, which preceded Abbott’s kill that sealed a 27-25 win.
It was a different story in the opener as Woodland snapped an early, 2-2 tie by scoring the next seven points - Shelby Myers had a pair of aces and DaCosta a pair of kills during the quick run - and led 9-2.
Salem got as close as five points on several occasions, including a 16-11 deficit after an error by Woodland’s Savannah Caudle. The game-turning stretch followed with Woodland getting an Abbott kill (off a pass from Caudle) as part of a 9-3 run to close out a 25-14 victory.