After a tough first set, Harnett Central roared back to win three straight sets and take home the victory 3-1 over county rival and Tri-County Conference foe Triton.
“Triton’s going to be good in everything,” Central head coach Jason Harrell said. “So any time we can beat Triton, it’s a good day.”
Triton’s gym is still undergoing renovations due to damage from Hurricane Florence, so the match was played at Coats-Erwin Middle School, a much smaller gymnasium. Harrell said that kind of venue can mess with players’ depth perception, especially during serves.
“Triton’s going to do all of the small things right,” Harrell said. “They served the ball well and they were just killing us — killing us. We couldn’t get out of serve receive. We just made adjustments and finally were able to read the serves a little bit and get out of serve receive.”
The Hawks came out strong in the first set. After getting out to a 6-5 lead, Triton went on a 7-1 run to go up 13-6. Central started to climb back into it, but Triton held on to win 25-21.
Central took control over the next two sets though, winning convincingly, 25-12 and 25-14.
“We went back to the way we were playing before the hurricane,” said Triton head coach Wendy Simmons. “Just mental mistakes. Too many errors. We gave them way too many points. They earned some, yes, but we gave them a lot of points, too. We’ve got to quit giving teams points.”
Triton fought back in the fourth set. After going down 17-12, the Hawks rattled off five straight points to tie it up 17-17. The teams exchanged blows, and Central led 22-21 going into the final timeout.
“We were trying to run a play and trying to do a couple things with our serves,” Harrell said. “And sometimes it wasn’t there. We were forcing things, and so I just told them to settle down and take what comes to us. I thought we did a good job of regrouping and focusing on what we had to do.”
The Trojans closed out the set with three straight points, including a kill by sophomore Syniah McMiller to put the final nail in the coffin.
Central’s front-line play was stellar. Senior Kylee Frailey led the Trojans with a career-high 14 kills, and McMiller set career marks with 13 kills and 11 blocks. Lyndsey Brewer added 11 kills and a career-high five solo blocks, and Ally Honeycutt tallied 10 kills.
The Trojans had a rough start to the season but have really gotten on a roll the last couple of weeks. They’ve won five straight and are playing their best volleyball of the year. But Harrell thinks his team can step its game up even higher.
“If we can just play more consistent,” Harrell said. “We have times where we just lose focus and then we kind of get back into it. We have a habit of digging a hole and trying to get back out of the hole. So if we could just start strong and finish strong, that’s really what our goal is.”
The win bumps Central up to 7-9 on the season and 4-3 in coference, and secures at least a third-place conference finish for the Trojans. Triton falls to 8-12 and 3-5 in conference play. They’ll get another shot at Central to close out the regular season on Monday as they’ll look to play spoiler on the Trojans’ senior night.