Harnett Central’s varsity volleyball team celebrated Senior Night with a 3-0 win over visiting Harnett County and Tri-County Six 3-A Conference rival Triton Monday, completing a season sweep over the Hawks. Individual set scores were 25-16, 25-20 and 25-12.
“We as a team, us seniors, we knew this was going to be our big game,” said Harnett Central senior setter Katelyn Everette. “We played as a team. We talked. We communicated. We knew we had to stick together to win against Triton again.”
Harnett Central coach Jason Harrell cited a strong start as a major key to the win.
“We’ve been struggling in first sets and tonight they really came out on fire,” Harrell said. “It was Senior Night and I was worried about how we were going to play. Were we going to be focused? And I think they came out really focused. I guess Triton will do that to you.”
Triton coach Wendy Simmons cited errors at crucial times as a recurring hindrance for the Hawks.
“Again,” Simmons said. “It’s our haunting, I guess, this year. It just takes one or two not ready to play out there. All six had to take the court ready to play and I don’t think they did that tonight. So, tonight I had to make some adjustments and I think some of them stepped up and did well in the positions I put them in. We’ve just got to keep fighting. We’ve just got to put it all together.”
The win locks Harnett Central, which is on a six-match win streak, into the No. 3 seed and Triton into the No. 4 seed for the conference tournament, which begins Thursday.
A group of seniors led the way for the Trojans (9-9, 6-3). Lyndsey Brewer, with a match-high nine kills and one block, and Ally Honeycutt, with five kills, were strong at the net.
“Ally and Lyndsey did a great job at the net,” Harrell said. “I think our defense at the net was our biggest key tonight. We were blocking a lot of balls and making things easier on our back row.”
Setter Katelyn Everette ran the offense effectively, with a match-high 19 assists.
“I can’t say enough. Katelyn is just incredible,” Harrell said. “She worked really hard in the offseason to get better and she is putting the time in and you can see it. She’s been making plays I’ve been truly impressed with.”
“Every game I try to limit my errors and limit my doubles (double-contact errors),” Everette said. “But tonight, I really wanted to play for the whole team. I wanted to be a leader on the court. I wanted to be a captain, especially on Senior Night.”
Shelbie Gill turned in one of her top defensive performances of the season with 10 digs.
“The last three matches we’ve had, Shelbie’s been all over the court,” Harrell said. “Shelbie’s been great. She’s been a wonderful asset this year. I thought tonight was her best defensive game.”
Sophomore Syniah McMiller, with six kills and a match-high five blocks, and junior Alexis Gordon, with 12 digs, also led Central.
Kylee Frailey had four kills, two assists and seven digs and held serve for five points. Ashlyn Rich had one kill, one block, two digs and one ace on five service points. Everette had one kill, seven digs and one ace on eight service points. Gill had two assists and one ace on six service points. Gordon had one assist and held serve for seven points. Honeycutt had six digs and three aces on seven service points. Brewer had six digs and one ace on eight service points. Laurie Blackwell had two digs.
Hannah Jackson had five kills, Tyler Grace Gamblin had 15 assists, Evie Pollard had four blocks and Gracyn Slaughter had a match-high 13 digs to lead the Hawks (8-13, 3-6).
Pollard had three kills and two digs and held serve for one point. Bethany Norris had two kills and three blocks and held serve for one point. Breighanna Hobbs had two kills and one block and held serve for one point. Ella Layn had two kills and four digs and held serve for one point. Addie Matthews had one kill and one dig. Slaughter had one kill and held serve for three points. Gamblin had two blocks and five digs and held serve for four points. Jackson had one block and three digs and held serve for two points. Sarah Phillips had six digs and held serve for two points. Alexis Howard had two digs and one ace on five service points. Maddie Stephens had two digs and held serve for one point.
Prior to the match, Harnett Central honored six seniors: Kylee Frailey, Ally Honeycutt, Ashlyn Rich, Lyndsey Brewer, Katelyn Everette and Shelbie Gill.
The first set was close early, but, holding a 5-4 lead, Central used a 10-2 run to take full control of the set.
The second set was close throughout until Central, holding a 16-14 lead, went on a 5-0 run to get separation. Triton held off a late pair of set points to cut it to 24-20, but a service error ended the set.
Triton lost a key player early in the second set when Layn, a senior captain and versatile performer, suffered an apparent ankle injury and had to be helped off the court and out of the gym.
With an 11-8 lead in the third set, the Trojans dominated the remainder of the set. Central ended the match on a 14-4 run, capped by a McMiller block to finish the match.
Triton won the junior varsity match 2-0, avenging a 2-0 home loss to the Trojans Tuesday.
Harnett Central hosts conference unbeaten Union Pines and Triton hosts Lee County for Senior Night to wrap up the regular season Tuesday. Both matches were postponed from Thursday because of Hurricane Michael. Triton’s match will be played at Cape Fear Christian Academy.
“We’ve got to keep staying confident and know that we can win,” Everette said. “And just stay having fun. Have fun.”