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McMichael junior wing Cassidy Tanton goes up for a shot versus Mid-State 3A Conference rival Rockingham earlier this season. The Lady Phoenix are coming off a marathon of a stretch as they look towards the regular season home stretch.

No one is going to accuse the McMichael volleyball team of being lazy following a trip to the Rocky Top Classic in Sevierville, Tennessee last weekend. The Lady Phoenix packed in seven games in just two days. DMHS then battled arch nemesis Person County for Mid-State 3A Conference supremacy last Tuesday.

Person swept McMichael 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-24) in that home series, which likely indicates the Lady Phoenix have some work to do if they plan to repeat as Mid-State 3A Conference regular season champions like they did in 2018.

“We did not have our best game against Person. They were the better team that night on the court. We struggled passing, which is not usually the case. Most of that was due to their aggressive serving, so we want to do more of that. We want to be more aggressive serving and get some more points on that. I think we are going to be alright. We are not a big blocking team, but we are going to have to get better at that. I think we have all of the pieces in place and the girls are willing to do the work,” McMichael head coach Marty Woods said.

When the dust finally settled from the whirlwind portion of the schedule last week, McMichael had played a whopping 10 games in eight days. Considering the Lady Phoenix entered the Rocky Top tournament undefeated, the marathon turned out to be a mixed bag after suffering through four losses during that span.

The challenging schedule was by design however, Woods said and that stretch provided many lessons and teachable moments that will likely benefit McMichael when the post season gets underway beginning on Oct. 21. The Rocky Top Classic and the three set match with Person featured several state championship caliber teams.

“Well obviously it’s been a busy week, but a good week for us. We feel like if we don’t get outside our comfort zone, then we are not going to be able to push on to the next level. We always try to fill our schedule with quality out of conference teams . . . being undefeated is a wonderful thing, but we want to be competitive and playing against quality opponents allows you to do that,” Woods said.

The coach said now that the Lady Phoenix have a chance to get back into a more normal routine and schedule, they can better evaluate their performance from their latest stretch and focus on improving in preparation for the next five weeks.

“We want to figure out where our weaknesses are. What do we need to tweak? I think I have a strong team. I do. I think that we have all of the parts in place. We don’t exactly know how they fit together quite yet, but the girls are really stepping up to the challenge. Sometimes when you lose, you get that defeated attitude. That is not the case with us. Our last night at practice we worked on three skill sets that we did not do well against Person. Things that we would like to do better the next time we play,” the coach said.

The Lady Phoenix will get an opportunity for revenge when they travel to Person on Oct. 10. Person County and McMichael have been alone atop the league standings throughout the season thus far, and if things continue along their current trajectory, the two teams could likely once again tangle for the Mid-State 3A Conference tournament championship just like last year when the regular season comes to a close on Oct. 23.

There is still a lot of volleyball to be played between now and then however, and Eastern Alamance and Western Alamance are still in the conversation as well, sitting just a half game back of McMichael in the league standings.

The Phoenix closed out the busy stretch with a dominant 3-0 (25-3, 25-4, 25-6) win versus Northeast Guilford on Thursday.

McMichael will be back in action with a home game against Reidsville on Monday night in Mayodan.

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Contact Jim Sands at 336-314-1058 or on Twitter @jimsandsRCN.

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