Barfield, Russell Draw up Vctory

Barfield, Russell draw up victory

BY JAMES COLLIER

Reprinted with permission from the editor of THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

FLATWOODS Rowan County thought it was headed to Red Devil Lane Tuesday night to battle Russell on the volleyball court.  Thanks to McKenna Barfield, the Valkyries ended up on Sesame Street.  Barfield took the court with a picture of Big Bird drawn on her right thigh with #BigBirdCouldNever written above. Barfield, also known as Big Bird on her club team, led the Lady Devils to their eighth win in a row with a 3-1 (25-15, 25-22, 16-25, 27-25) victory over the Valkyries.  The junior middle hitter tallied seven kills and four blocks, one of each that secured a set win for Russell, including her final kill of the night to win the match. As Barfield awaited at the net, a Rowan County ball floated just above, putting Barfield in a picture-perfect setting.  “The adrenaline was pumping because you are thinking that I better get this down,” Barfield smiled. “The timing is everything because I’ve gone up and missed them when it’s perfect. But when you get it, it’s the best feeling in the world.”  Barfield was huge at the net for the Lady Devils, as her second block of the game sent Riley Hall’s attack back to sender for a 2-0 lead in the match.  “I told McKenna that she had one of her best games tonight,” Russell coach Tiffany Perry said. “She truly put herself on the floor and put herself on the line to make things happen. She was not willing to lose and that stood out to me in that fourth set. She was diving at the net and killing it when needed. She was doing everything we needed her to do in that moment. That’s those moments you smile on and are proud of.”  Perhaps Barfield’s stellar play came from the character on the junior’s left thigh — “Muscle Man” from the comedy “The Regular Show.” She claims that provides many inside jokes with the team.  Perry credits Barfield for going the extra mile to lift the team.  “She does what she needs to do when she needs to do it,” Perry said. “I tell them that they need to have fun because when they stop enjoying the game, they start making mistakes. They start looking like they are miserable. That’s not the goal here. The goal is to enjoy the game, feel confident in the game.”  Sadie Hill set the tone for the match from the opening serve doing what she has done well all season — dropping in aces. As one of the top servers in the state, Hill added seven more to her total, including three consecutive early in the final set for the Lady Devils.  “She has over 100 aces and just keeps them coming,” Perry said. “It’s something we need in those moments and she’s always willing to do it for us.”  Tied 6-6 in the opening frame, Hill sparked a 5-0 Russell run by finishing a kill that she called for after a bump. Kate Ruggles and Christin Corey added big swings at the net including a pair of Corey kills for the 1-0 lead.  Both teams volleyed for position in Set 2 until Barfield and Hill rallied a Russell surge that broke an 8-8 tie. Russell opened an 18-12 lead only to see Rowan County use a 9-3 run of their own to knot the set at 21-21. Out of the Russell timeout, the final four points of the set went to the ladies in maroon for a 2-0 lead in the match.  Rowan County took its first lead of the match to open Set 3 while cruising to a 25-16 win. Madison Roar and Mikale Smith led the surge for the visitors.  Set 4 seemed to be prime for the taking for Russell after a Ruggles kill pushed the lead to 18-12. But Rowan County tied the set on a Roar kill and took the lead behind a Smith ace to cap off a 7-0 run.  “I thought we looked very sloppy tonight,” Perry said. “The first set looked like us and then the sloppiness came in. I don’t know what happened.”  But Barfield’s two biggest swings of the night came in the final points of the game, with both being early Christmas presents at the net just waiting for the kill.  When asked if the large yellow bird could have led the Devils to the win as she did, the 6-foot-2 middle hitter smiled and replied, “Big Bird could never be as good as this Big Bird.”





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