Lady Falcons knock off top-ranked Cape Fear

Aug. 31—Lee Christian volleyball faced its first major test of the 2023 season and passed it Tuesday evening.

The Lady Falcons began Mid-Carolina Conference play with a visit from defending MCC champion Cape Fear Christian, and downed the Eagles in four sets to win their third consecutive match.

Lee (4-2, 1-0 MCC) dominated the first two sets before faltering a bit in the third, but closed it out in four, winning 25-11, 25-11, 21-25, 25-18. It was also the first conference match of the season for CFCA, which had opened the season 3-1 in non-conference play with its only loss coming in five sets at 2A St. Thomas More.

Cape Fear entered its match with Lee Christian as the No. 1-ranked NCISAA 1A team, according to MaxPreps. The Lady Falcons were ranked fifth, but there was reason to believe they were underrated. Lee Christian's two defeats came against teams stronger than anything that anyone else in the MCC has faced to date this season.

Jamiya Graham led the attack with eight kills while committing just one attack error in 23 tries, and had a hitting and kill percentage well over .300. Elayna McFarland matched her with eight kills, while Carlie Anne Nicholson and Alayna Moore had five each. Kelcey King has seven aces and Maggie Glines five.

Glines led the team with 25 digs, followed by Moore with 12 and Kenah Smith with 11. Smith was credited with 20 assists.

The win puts Lee atop the MCC standings along with Crossroads Christian, who beat Cresset in their conference opener a week ago. Five teams are competing as part of the conference this year, with Bradford Academy being the other. Bradford played most of the MCC last season as an independent and decided to join the league this season.

On Monday, Lee Christian faced the Harnett Warriors and got surprised in the opening set, but then buckled down and won handily, 24-26, 25-14, 25-9, 25-14. It was the first match for the Lady Falcons in nine days and they displayed some rust out of the gate, but then were very strong in the last three sets.

The Warriors, a homeschool team that Lee will face again on Sept. 11, proved to have all sorts of problems with the Lady Falcons' service game. Lee Christian had 27 service aces in the win, including eight by Glines and six each from Smith and King. Lee served 99 times in the match and committed just six service errors.

Lee was nearly as dominant on the attack, where the team had a .300 hitting percentage and a .371 kill percentage for the match. Sophomore middle hitter McFarland did not make an error in 15 attacks and turned eight of them into kills. Classmate Nicholson was 18-for-19 on attacks and made eight kills as well, while freshman Moore was 12-for-12 and had four kills. McFarland had three blocks, with Nicholson and Moore each earning one.

Sophomore Maggie Glines led the team with 17 digs, while Smith had 21 assists with no ball-handling errors.

The Lady Falcons have a chance to take first place in the MCC all to themselves on Friday, when they visit Crossroads.