Harnett Central made a strong statement to open volleyball season Monday, rallying from down 2-0 to edge visiting Jack Britt in five sets by scores of 20-25, 19-25, 26-24, 25-16 and 15-12.
“I was pleased,” said Harnett Central coach Jason Harrell. “We came out with effort and intensity. We executed and we just didn’t quit. We had been talking about not giving up and trying to finish strong. Kind of a goal of ours is to finish sets stronger than we start and we did tonight.”
Sophomore Syniah McMiller had a match-high 18 kills and five blocks to power the Trojans (1-0) at the net.
Central showed notable improvement on defense from last season, led by Ally Honeycutt, with 18 digs, Shelbie Gill, with 17 digs, and libero Alexis Gordon, with 15 digs.
“We lost a lot of key players, but the other girls have stepped up,” Harrell said. “It’s going to be exciting. I’m excited. And the JV team has got some good potential. I’m excited all around. This is going to be a good little run here.”
Kylee Frailey had eight kills, 10 digs and one ace on six service points. Honeycutt had six kills and three aces on nine service points. Gill had four kills, six assists and one ace on five service points. Lyndsey Brewer had four kills, one block and seven digs and held serve for 10 points. Lauryn Waddell had one kill and one block. Ashlyn Rich had one kill and one dig and held serve for two points. Currin Jones had one kill and one assist. Katelyn Everette had 24 assists and 13 digs and led all servers with four aces on 15 service points. Laurie Blackwell had three digs and held serve for two points. Gordon held serve for five points.
“They all came up big,” Harrell said. “Hopefully we can build on that going forward. I was very pleased with them all. That’s a big win for us.”
Lexy Cole had 15 kills and a match-high seven blocks, Kaiah Parker had nine kills and two aces on 13 service points, Alyssa Bullard had nine kills and Caitlin Broome had a match-high 36 assists and two aces on 12 service points to lead the Buccaneers (0-1).
The first set was close throughout until, holding a 21-20 lead, Britt took the set with a 4-0 run.
Central led 10-7 in the second set when Britt took control with nine unanswered points. The set later ended with an ace from Parker.
The third set was another tightly contested one, going all the way to extra points. With the score tied at 24, a kill from Brewer and a kill from McMiller, both assisted by Gill, gave the Trojans the set.
Central took control early in the fourth set, opening on a 5-0 run. Central led by as much as 20-10, the largest lead for either team in the match, during the set. Britt cut the lead to six with a 5-1 run, but Central answered with a 4-1 run to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
With the score tied 5-5 in the fifth set, Britt took control with a 7-1 run, but a pair of errors started a 9-0 run for the Trojans to end the match.
“Momentum just kept flip-flopping all night,” Harrell said. “We just kept telling the girls, ‘Just ride it out. Stay with it. Plays will come our way.’ We got opportunities and made the most of them. We didn’t try to force things. If it wasn’t there, we were smart about it.”
Harnett Central also won the junior varsity match 2-0.
Harnett Central is at home against Cleveland on Thursday.
On Saturday, Central will host the Trojan Tournament. Central will meet South Johnston in the main gym while Garner and Pine Forest face off in the auxiliary gym at 10 a.m. The winners will meet for the championship in the main gym and the losers play in the auxiliary gym afterward.