Playoff volleyball: Midway, Central, South advance

By DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 10/24/21

The sights and sounds from this past weekend's opening round of the NCHSAA volleyball playoffs.

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Playoff volleyball: Midway, Central, South advance

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SPIVEY'S CORNER — Coming off a dominating performance against rival Clinton to take the outright Southeastern Athletic Conference championship two days prior, Midway began its postseason in a similar fashion at home Friday, taking care of 28th-seeded North Johnston in straight sets. 

Set scores were 25-17, 25-12 and 25-20. 

Fifth-seeded Midway (16-4) advances to the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A East bracket on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

Despite some noted "silliness"  from her group having to play a day earlier than expected, Lady Raiders coach Susan Clark was still content with the results.

"I love them and we're thankful. We've been really focused,"  Clark said. 

Morgan Hall tallied a team-high nine kills and five blocks. McKenzie Williams finished with a game-high 23 digs and  Blair Baggett totaled four kills and 11 digs. 

The impressive win saw Midway trail only once in the match– early in the first set. After gaining a 4-2 lead, North Johnston posted three unanswered points and forced Clark to call timeout.

The Lady Raiders used the early setback to gain momentum and a Hall kill made it 18-11, forcing a timeout from the visitors.  Baggett's spike a few minutes later closed the opening frame, giving Midway a one-set advantage. 

Breezed through the second set with all-around efforts from multiple players including senior outside hitter Rylie Williams. A Williams spike later in the set just fell in the sideline and made it 20-9. She punched in another one moments later to give the group its largest lead of the frame, 24-12. 

North Johnston got as close as one point in the third, but Midway used a 6-0 spurt halfway through the frame to notch a 12th straight victory 

"In all honesty, we don't look at that. We look at the next day, the next game ... it's overwhelming if you don't take it one game at a time," Clark said of the streak. 

She expects competition to ramp up in the upcoming rounds, starting with Tuesday's second-round matchup with visiting No. 12 seed Whiteville. 

"We enjoy watching film and breaking down the other team's game," Clark said, also noting how she fits in specific plays tailored for each opponent. 

"We've been really focused on being precise and perfect with those plays. ... We still have a lot to work on. Nobody's ever perfect and nobody quits working." 

Central advances with 3-1 win  

ANGIER — Though tested throughout various portions of Saturday's home playoff tilt, Harnett Central eliminated Southern Lee 3-1 in a first-round game of the 3A East bracket. 

No. 9 seed Central (18-7) advances to the second round and travels to eighth-seeded Currituck County (16-7) on Tuesday.

Set scores were 25-22, 25-16 and 25-18. 

Ivanna Jones led the Lady Trojans with 11  kills to go with nine digs.  Lily Gervase added nine kills and a team-high nine blocks. 

Sinai Avalos Beltran totaled eight kills and 14 digs, while Mikaela Goss led Central with 24 digs.

Gervase's kill in the first set helped the Lady Trojans jump out to a 6-2 advantage, but the lead would slowly disappear and Southern Lee's Priyanna Tabon scored an ace to tie it at 9. 

Things would be tied at 21 later in the frame, but Gervase ended a 4-2 run with a block to give her squad a one-set lead.

Jones and Avalos Beltran powered a Central-centric second set that saw the home team grow a lead as high as nine points, but the visitors powered back to win the third.

Both teams traded runs in the fourth, but Gervase eventually capped the match victory with a spike at the net. 

South wins in 4 at West Carteret

Overcoming a rough start to Saturday's 3A East match at West Carteret, South Johnston stormed back to claim a 3-1 opening-round victory.

Set scores were 7-25, 25-22, 25-14 and 25-20. 

No. 17 seed South (17-8) travels to top-seeded Cedar Ridge (26-2) on Tuesday. 

Triton ends season at Hunt

Facing Quad County Conference champ Hunt, the Triton volleyball team fell in straight sets on the road Saturday. 

Set scores were 21-25, 18-25 and 16-25. 

Third-seeded Hunt (22-4) moves on to host No. 14 Orange on Tuesday. 

Triton closes its season with an 11-14 record overall and finished third in the All American Conference standings with a 9-5 mark. 

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910 230-2040. 

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