Sep. 15—MANTACHIE — Kerstin Moody is still a young player, which can be easy to forget.
She tends to play and lead beyond her years, and that's what she did Tuesday night. With two starters out sick, Belmont rode the play of Moody to take down Mantachie, 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-18).
The Lady Cardinals (20-3), ranked No. 2 by the Daily Journal, were without outside hitter Kate Greene and middle hitter Emma Horton.
"Usually she's got Kate to balance her out, and she didn't tonight," Belmont coach Stephanie Cleveland said of Moody. "Tonight she had to play the whole time, and she had to take charge. I was proud of her. At the end of the day I have to remind myself she's a sophomore."
Moody finished the night with 17 kills, but she didn't find her groove until about midway through the second set. Mantachie (13-2) played a sagging defense, which threw Moody off.
"It flustered her for just a minute, because she couldn't get it down," Cleveland said. "She was like, 'Coach, they're all backed up.' I said, 'I know. So look at what they're giving you.'"
Moody's first kill of the second set gave Belmont an 11-9 lead, and she had four more as the Lady Cardinals steadily pulled away.
She kept it rolling in the third set, recording nine kills as Belmont jumped out to a 10-4 lead and never looked back.
"They have a different defense, so I was just trying to find the holes," Moody said.
She got great help from setter Madasen McCaig, who kept the offense flowing. It wasn't just Moody finishing at the net, as the Lady Cardinals finished with 34 kills. Sadie Randolph had six kills, and A.K. Merino had five.
"With this team we have a lot of people champing at the bit to be the best that they can be and making everybody better. There's people wanting starting positions; everyone wants to be on the floor," Moody said.
Mantachie saw its five-game winning streak snapped. Coach Kristi Montgomery said Belmont is by far the best team the Lady Mustangs have played this season.
"I told them, 'This will be really good for you going down the road,'" Montgomery said. "We've still got a game with Kossuth and two with Alcorn Central, which we're going to see a lot of the same similar ability to hit, ability to get balls back up.
"You're going to have to play from point 1 to point 25. It's a very good experience for us."