In spite of a late rally, No. 13 Midway’s varsity volleyball season came to an end on Tuesday in a 3-0 loss at Sampson County rival Clinton, the No. 4 seed, in the second round of the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs. Individual set scores were 25-16, 25-19 and 25-23.
“We said that from the gate we had to start high and stay high,” said Midway coach Brandy Wrench. “It’s nothing we haven’t done. We’ve fought out of stuff and we thought we were going to fight out tonight. It just didn’t play in our favor. We had too many errors at one time and those were the crucial times. Clinton’s a good team. They’ve got good athletes too and they’ve worked hard.”
Sophomore Rylie Williams, who was called up from the junior varsity team for the postseason, came off the bench to lead the Raiders (18-8) at the net with eight kills. She also contributed eight digs and one ace on two service points.
“Rylie is an athlete all the way around,” Wrench said. “She loves the competition. She was real strong.”
Senior Caitlyn Holland had a double-double for Midway, with five kills, 15 assists, 12 digs and two aces on eight service points.
Makayla Chavis had seven kills and three digs. Makenzi Hudson had five kills and two blocks. Maranda Byrd had three kills, four assists, 24 digs and one ace on four service points. Allison Belflowers had three kills, one block, three digs and one ace on six service points. Jordan Wallum had two kills, one assist and eight digs and held serve for one point. Sydney Williams had one kill, 13 assists and five digs and held serve for one point. Emma Clark had one kill, two digs and one ace on two service points. Blair Baggett, another player called up from JV, had one kill. Natalie McPhail had six digs and held serve for one point. Chloe Baggett had one dig.
Senior Taylor Spell had 12 kills, two blocks and four aces on 10 service points, sophomore Sarah Harrison had 10 kills and one block, senior Britt Thornton had 31 assists and sophomore Carrie Jordan had one ace on 11 service points to lead the Dark Horses (25-1).
The first set was close until, holding a 10-9 lead, Clinton finished the set on a 15-7 run.
Late in the second set, Clinton held a 20-14 lead when a Rylie Williams kill, assisted by Sydney Williams, sparked a 4-1 run to cut the lead to two. But a Harrison kill, assisted by Thornton, started Clinton on a 4-0 run to take the set.
Midway started the third set strong and held a 17-8 lead before Clinton rallied with a 14-3 run to take the lead. With Clinton holding match point at 24-21, Midway fought off two match points before Harrison ended the match with a kill, assisted by Thornton.
Clinton advances to the third round of the playoffs and will host fifth-seeded Currituck County (23-8) on Thursday.
The loss brings a close to the high school volleyball careers of four Midway seniors: Caitlyn Holland, Natalie McPhail, Jordan Wallum and Makayla Chavis. Holland has been a starter on the varsity squad all four years.
“Caitlyn Holland is a strong player all the way around,” Wrench said. “She sets. She digs. She hits. She blocks. Then you’ve got Makayla Chavis, who found her momentum this year with her hits. She’d find the holes and attack. Jordan Wallum puts her body and effort into everything. She gets so excited in all her plays. She is always a momentum bringer. Natalie plays the back line and does a tremendous job. She’s grown a lot as a player over the years.”
Wrench believes the performance she saw from her underclassmen means Midway will have a strong future.
“Midway’s always been a strong athletic group altogether,” Wrench said. “We’re excited about what next year’s going to bring because we’ve got strong players still here. And bringing Maranda back, another good year of libero. So, I have a lot of faith in next year’s team.”