Triton’s varsity volleyball team started strong and fought off homestanding Harnett County rival Western Harnett’s rally to take a 3-1 Tri-County Six 3-A Conference win by scores of 25-20, 22-25, 27-25 and 25-20 on Thursday to avenge a 3-1 home loss to Western from Sept. 24.
“I just told them over there in the huddle, ‘From now on, in every match, it’s the first set every game,’” said Triton coach Wendy Simmons. “‘We go to the other side, it’s the first set. We come over here, it’s the first set.’ I don’t know what else to do to reach them, so we’re going to start doing that and see how that works. It’s the first set.”
Western Harnett coach Hallie Hales said the Eagles have been competitive, but unable to turn that into wins.
“It’s kind of been the same for us the last three games,” Hales said. “We’ve competed but just couldn’t pull it out in the end. I think it’s just a mental thing. Once we get down, we just can’t overcome that. If we don’t start out on top, it’s hard for us to get back.”
Seniors Evie Pollard, Breigh Hobbs and Tyler Grace Gamblin each had a double-double to lead the Hawks (9-11, 3-5 TCSC). Pollard had 15 kills, one assist, two blocks and 12 digs. Hobbs had 12 kills, three assists, 11 digs and two aces on nine service points. Gamblin had three kills, 39 assists, one block and 14 digs and held serve for four points.
“We talk about that go-to person a lot in practice and things like that,” Simmons said. “I’m glad to see that (Pollard) has stepped up and wants to be that person that we can set it to and she’s going to try her best to put it away.”
Triton received strong performances at the service line from Chelby Pascale and birthday girl Bethany Norris, who held serve for 12 points apiece, including five aces from Pascale and three aces from Norris.
“I think since we’ve been doing 10 in a row during practice, it’s helped a lot of them,” Simmons said. “Some more than others, but hopefully everybody will catch on and see that that’s their weapon and that’s a time where we can score points and work on being a little more consistent.”
Leah Brannon had nine kills, one dig and one ace on five service points. Norris had six kills, one assist and seven digs. Breonna McNeill had two kills, one block and three digs and held serve for two points. Gracyn Slaughter had one kill, two assists and 11 digs and held serve for three points. Pascale had one assist and two digs. Sydney Morrison had five digs and held serve for three points. Maddie Stephens had three digs.
“Definitely (a team effort),” Simmons said. “And that’s a good thing. There’s been years past that I didn’t have that kind of bench and I had to go with whatever I had out there on the floor. It helps us knowing that we can do something different if somebody didn’t show up or isn’t playing like they’re capable of doing or anything like that.”
Sophomore Makenyia Mackey recorded a double-double to lead the Eagles (2-13, 2-6), with 15 kills, 19 digs and six aces on 11 service points.
“She’s doing fantastic,” Hales said. “I can’t ask for much more out of her. I have a lot of girls that are giving me everything that they can and it’s just sometimes we fall a little bit short, so it’s tough.”
Returning from injury, senior Jordyn Neighbors had eight kills, one block and 13 digs and held serve for four points.
“This is her first game back from her injury against Lee County (on Sept. 26),” Hales said. “I think she was scared at first, because she was scared she was going to hurt. And I think she got more comfortable as she went. So, I think she’s back and that’s a positive.”
Makyia Mackey had nine kill, four digs and one ace on seven service points. Gracie Olive had five kills, seven digs and one ace on two service points. Jada Byrd had two kills, one block and one dig. Sarah Truitt had one kill and one dig and held serve for four points. Logan Holmes had one kill, 10 digs and two aces on four service points. Andrionna Buie had one kill. Lindsey Worrell had 38 assists, seven digs and two aces on eight service points. Erin Kelly had five digs and held serve for one point.
With Western holding a late 17-14 lead in the first set, a Norris kill, assisted by Gamblin, sparked an 11-3 Triton run to close out the set.
With the score tied 18-18 in the second set, Western outscored Triton 7-4 down the stretch to tie the match 1-1.
Western erased a late seven-point deficit, at 16-9, to tie the third set 20-20 and eventually take the set to extra points. But with the score tied 25-25, a Western error and a Pollard kill, assisted by Hobbs, gave Triton the set.
Western nearly rallied from another seven-point deficit in the fourth set, at 18-11, cutting the lead to just three, at 22-19. But a Norris kill, assisted by Gamblin, started Triton on a 3-1 run to end the match.
With just two conference matches for each team remaining in the regular season, Western Harnett is at Lee County (3-14, 2-6) on Tuesday and hosts Union Pines (19-2, 8-0) for Senior Night on Thursday. Triton travels to Union Pines on Tuesday before returning home to host county rival Harnett Central (6-12, 3-5) for Senior Night on Thursday.