The South Iron Panthers put the pressure on the Zalma Bulldogs from the beginning Friday in their opening season volleyball match on the road. The Panthers cruised in three sets, 25-3, 25-13, 25-13, to start the season on a high note.
“I am very proud of the effort of our team tonight, and what they were able to produce with it being our first game,” Panthers’ head coach Adriann D’amico pointed out after the match. “They came out focused and ready to play. Their communication and effort were a big part of our success tonight.”
The match started well with South Iron completely dominating the first set. “Our serving was strong through all three sets,” the head coach pointed out. “This allowed for us to put points on the board and create some room. Enzley Dinkins started the first set off by serving 12 straight serves before we lost the ball. Every server on our team recorded at least one ace on the night.”
The next two sets were closer, but South Iron remained in control the entire match. “Zalma came out the second and third set ready to play,” D’amico noted. “We were able to remain focused and continue playing at the level we have been working on. Our ability to pursue balls and keep them in play added to tonight’s success.”
For the match, Maddie Ayers led the team with eight kills and ten digs. She also recorded an ace. She said she was excited to get the season going. “I think it went really well. and I’m very happy by the way we played,” she said. “I’m very excited for this season! We were being very aggressive when we were hitting the ball.”
Megan Lashley was tough at the net, collecting six kills. She also had an ace. Dinkins ended the night leading the team in assists with 12. She added a solo block and five aces. Drew Gayle contributed nine assists, and an ace. She said the team played hard. “I think our first match went very well,” she said. “I was very pleased with all the balls we didn’t give up on, and trying to attack the ball, giving the other team something more difficult to pick up!.”
Hailey Pauley notched two aces, and Alyssa Bennett added seven digs and one ace. Bennett said the Panthers played as a unit. “I was most pleased about our team’s communication and how well we all worked together to get the job done,” she stated. “We all played great, quality, team ball. Any of us were ready to step in and fill in wherever we were needed on the court in order to take care of the ball. Our first game and win has made me very excited for what is to come during our season.”
Three athletes…Dinkins, Anna Parker and Emma Griffith…played in their first high school contest. Parker said it was something she’ll never forget. “I think it went really well! I was pleased with how aggressive we were as a team. I felt nervous a little bit, but it was so exiting!”
Coach D’amico closed by emphasizing the depth the team possesses. “These girls played well as a team and showed our versatility,” she remarked. “We were able to produce from all across the front line. Our back row covered each other up and were able to dig up multiple balls.”
The Panthers are back in action tomorrow (Tuesday) at home against St. Paul. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.