Playing at home for the first time this season, Midway’s varsity volleyball team avenged its lone loss of the season by handing South Johnston its first loss of the season in a five-set battle on Wednesday. Individual set scores were 25-20, 12-25, 25-17, 25-14 and 15-11.
Midway coach Brandy Wrench had to quickly leave after the lengthy match, so assistant Susan Clark answered questions in her stead.
“We’re starting to clean up things and play a lot better as a unit all the way around,” coach Clark said. “They had a lot of heart. They played hard tonight. They were excited. And being at home, the atmosphere carries us a lot during the season. South is a very strong, very skill-drilled team. So, we knew exactly what we had to do, where we had to be and how we had to play to win this game. And they did it.”
South Johnston coach Matthew Adams said serving and passing were the key factors in the match.
“Tonight, they won the serving and passing game,” Adams said. “I think the bottom line, it comes down to serving and passing and they did that. Right there at the end they’d stand at the service line and we’d struggle to pass like three or four balls in a row. When it’s 9-9 or 10-10 (in the fifth set), you can’t do that. You can’t let them get to 13 or 14 and then try to make a run. Serve receive errors, we probably had more tonight than any match on the season by far. We probably had more service errors tonight than we’ve had. That’s the fundamental part of the game, and they tonight they won that part of the game. And that’s why they won the match.”
Senior Caitlyn Holland had a triple-double to lead the Raiders (3-1), with 10 kills, 14 assists and 10 digs.
Defense was a strong factor for Midway, led by 20 digs from senior Jordan Wallum and 15 digs from junior Maranda Byrd.
“Jordan Wallum, especially in the last two sets, had several digs that she typically doesn’t have in a game,” coach Clark said. “She really laid out and just threw her body out there for it.”
Allison Belflowers had six kills, one assist, three blocks, five digs and four aces on eight service points. Makayla Chavis had six kills, one block and five digs and held serve for two points. Makenzi Hudson had six kills, one block and one dig. Wallum had three kills and one assist and held serve for 10 points. Emma Clark had two kills, three digs and three aces on eight service points. Sydney Williams had one kill, 12 assists and four digs and held serve for four points. Chloe Baggett had one kill and two assists. Holland had two blocks and held serve for six points. Natalie McPhail had four digs and held serve for one point. Taylor Williams had one dig and one ace on two service points.
Senior Jenna Brown had 12 kills and three aces on 13 service points, senior LeeAnna Hines had 10 kills and five blocks and junior Mattie Wheeless had 36 assists to lead the Trojans (5-1).
Katon Blackmon had eight kills, one assist, eight digs and one ace on eight service points. Carlye Durham had two kills, two blocks and one dig. Paige Toler had two kills and two digs. Jordyn Brown had two kills and one dig. Wheeless had one kill and four digs and held serve for one point. Kennedy Byrd had 16 digs and two aces on eight service points. Erica Stanley had 14 digs and held serve for nine points. Callie Sutton had 10 digs and held serve for 16 points. Brown had four digs. Hines had one dig.
The teams exchanged set wins, with Midway taking a 1-0 lead before South tied it and Midway taking the third set to lead 2-1 before South tied it again to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
South started the fifth set on a 7-3 run before Midway scored four unanswered to tie it. With the score tied at 10, Midway went on another 4-0run, with a Chavis block bringing up match point. A Brown kill, assisted by Wheeless, briefly extended the match, but Chavis ended the match with a kill, assisted by Holland.
South Johnston is at home against Lee County (1-3) on Thursday.
Midway opens East Central 2-A Conference play at James Kenan (0-4) on Tuesday.