Triton’s varsity volleyball team showed significant improvement in a 3-0 win over visiting Fuquay-Varina on Monday. Individual set scores were 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23.
“Definitely improvement in our passing and our serving,” said Triton coach Wendy Simmons. “It seemed like tonight the monkey on our back was hitting errors. Just something we need to go back and work on some more.”
Against South Johnston on Thursday, the serving was one of Triton’s biggest weaknesses, as the Hawks (3-3) made 15 service errors. Against Fuquay on Monday, the Hawks cut that number down to seven and made the serve one of their biggest weapons, with 16 aces. Senior Hannah Jackson led all servers with six aces on 14 service points.
“I’ve got several jump serving and when you serve aggressively like that, you’re going to miss some anyway,” Simmons said. “I don’t get as upset when they’re serving aggressively and they miss. Every practice I tell them, ‘It’s your weapon. You’ve got to go back there and perfect it and make it unreturnable.’ Some of them have been working really hard on that.”
Simmons cited the play of sophomore Addie Matthews in all facets of the game as a major factor in the win. Matthews had four kills, six digs and five aces on 12 service points.
“I said to the coaches, ‘Addie’s playing like she did before she got hurt last year (an ankle injury that kept her out most of the season),’” Simmons said. “And that’s good to see.”
Jackson and Evie Pollard, two key seniors at the net for Triton, showed their versatility by leading the Hawks defensively with nine digs, and seven digs, respectively. Pollard also led all hitters with five kills.
“I kind of interchange them a little bit, middle and outside,” Simmons said. “I think they’re that versatile that it’s not going to hurt us to put one, one place and one the other. And they’re quick. And they know how to scramble. It helps us to be able to do that.”
Ella Layn had three kills, nine assists, six digs and one ace on four service points. Tyler Grace Gamblin had three kills, one dig and one ace on three service points. Jackson had two kills. Breighanna Hobbs had four assists and three digs. Pollard had one assist and one ace on four service points. Sarah Phillips had one assist and one dig. Gracyn Slaughter had seven digs and two aces on nine service points.
Sydney Bresee had four kills, two assists, four blocks and two aces on 12 service points to lead the Bengals (1-2).
Simmons was pleased with the pressure Triton’s serving and offense put on Fuquay, causing the Bengals’ defense to scramble and get out of position, resulting in multiple free balls and errors.
“We’ve always worked on that, as far as being smart,” Simmons said. “Don’t put the ball where they’re standing, but make them move. We have a drill in practice where we work on doing that. It’s nice to see that they’re taking some practice ideas into games now.”
Fuquay held a late 19-15 lead in the first set when a Gamblin kill, assisted by Layn, sparked a 10-0 Triton run to end the set.
During that run, Jackson held serve for nine straight points, including three aces.
“When she’s on, she’s on,” Simmons said. “She has a very strong serve. When she’s focusing, it’s very hard to return, so we look to her for those points. She came through tonight.”
Holding an 11-9 lead in the second set, the Hawks caught fire, dominating the remainder of the set with a 14-3 run, capped by a Jackson kill, assisted by Layn, to take the set.
Much like the first set, Triton needed late rally in the third set. With the Bengals holding a 21-16 lead, Triton went on a 9-4 run, capped by a Pollard kill off of an overpass, to end the match.
Fuquay-Varina won the junior varsity match 2-0.
Triton is at home against South Garner (0-3) on Tuesday and at rival South Johnston (3-1) on Thursday.
“Hopefully we’ll stay focused and play to our potential,” Simmons said.