Varsity Volleyball: Foard earns clean sweep over West Lincoln in season opening endowment match on Thursday

Foard’s varsity volleyball roster (Left to right):  (back row) Megan Dorsey (11), Sierra Ward (12), Jamianne Foster (17), Martina Foster (20), Sara Lingle (14), and Katrina Cloer (13); (front row) Makenzie Sutton (1), Macy Ward (8), Dara Shaffer (6), Haley Johnston (3) and Michelle Thao (10). (O-N-E photo by Marcus Smith)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

The Fred T. Foard Lady Tigers’ varsity volleyball team picked up where it left off from last season on Thursday night.

The Lady Tigers hosted its endowment season opener against West Lincoln and did so emphatically to begin 1-0 on the year with a clean sweep: 25-8, 25-5 and 25-4.

The punishing victory was led by Michelle Thao, Megan Dorsey and Haley Johnston.

Dorsey and Thao each garnered six kills while Johnston chimed in with seven digs and 13 assists.

Sara Lingle added 11 assists and Dara Shaffer obtained six digs in the win.

“The team was very excited being the first home game,” said Foard head coach, Meredith Lombardi. “We have been working very hard the past two weeks, so getting to play was something they were looking forward to. I talk about ball control a lot....and that was their main focus and they did just that.

“We stayed focused and minimized our errors. It’s still early to talk about the rest of the season, but I am excited about how focused my team is.”

In terms of a weakness, she said her team didn’t keep its energy up and that’s something she’s working on with them.

This was Foard’s 12th win in-a-row dating back to the end of the 2018 season, as well as its 45th in its last 57 matches, in which the Lady Tigers were crowned Northwestern Foothills 2A conference champs and tournament champs following an impressive 24-3 overall finish and 12-0 finish in the conference.

Foard would also make it to the fourth round of the 2A state playoffs in Lombardi’s first season.

Lombardi would earn Northwestern Foothills 2A conference coach of the year honors. Thao earned the regular-season player of the year nod, as well conference tournament Most Valuable Player.

“My personal goals (in year two), of course, are to be successful,” said Lombardi. “But as a team I want us to grow as individuals, play together, and trust in each other. I’m very fortunate to have a talented team and it’s exciting to think about the rest of the season."

As far as the win over the Lady Rebels, it would be a special victory in Jerry Copas Gymnasium as it was its first in the newly-named Linda Richards Court.

In 27 years of coaching, Richards led the Lady Tigers to four 3A state volleyball championships (1995-97, 2002). Following her retirement from coaching in 2014, she was named to the 2015 class of the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame.

“Linda Richards (LR), was such an inspiration for a lot of young female athletes,” said Lombardi. “I didn’t play for her but I know a good many who did, and her impact on those individuals has made them into the people they are today. She has a high reputation and my girls know that.

“So playing/ coaching on her court is quite the honor. She means a lot to this program and this area and we are going to try our very best to represent her and make her proud in every way possible.”

Foard (1-0) stays at home for a battle with Maiden on Tuesday, August 20.