Harnett Central’s varsity volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit against visiting Tri-County Six 3-A Conference foe Union Pines on Senior Night on Tuesday, but the Vikings won the fifth set to win the match 3-2 and stay undefeated on the season. Individual set scores were 35-33, 25-19, 20-25, 22-25 and 15-10.
“Something we talked about tonight and we talked about since the first time we played Union Pines was to be focused the whole time and to fight,” said Harnett Central assistant Ashley Gaines. “You’ve got to be working harder than the other team is working. You’ve got to show how hard you want to be out there. And I think they did a lot of that.”
Senior Harper Howell and sophomore Carlie Love each recorded a double-double for the Trojans (4-3, 4-2 TCSC). Howell had a match-high 15 kills and 23 digs and Love had a match-high 28 assists and 20 digs.
In addition to Howell and Love, two more Trojans recorded double digits on defense. Senior libero Laurie Blackwell had 29 digs and senior Kayla Sadowski had 22 digs. Both also led the Trojans at the service line. Sadowski had two aces on 13 service points and Blackwell had one ace on 11 service points.
Gaines said juniors Sinai Avalos Beltran and Ivanna Jones were big factors at the net for Central. Jones had nine kills and two blocks and Beltran had nine kills.
“Those two really stepped up for us,” Gaines said. “I did a little switch with my middles because Ivanna was just getting more touches on the ball, as far as blocking. And when I made that change on the fourth set, she was on. She was just having fun and that’s what I tell her all the time is she just needs to go out there and have fun. And Sinai, she was all over the place, getting balls that people were blocking and finding the court. She never stopped working to get the ball.”
Syniah McMiller had eight kills, three blocks and three digs and held serve for two points. Carlee Harrell had two kills, nine assists and two digs. Carlie Gardner had one kill, two blocks, four digs and two aces on five service points. Love had one kill and one ace on seven service points. Blackwell had two assists. Jones had one assist, five digs and three aces on five service points. Howell had one assist and one ace on six service points. Beltran had five digs. Angel Noto had three digs and served one ace.
Senior Morgan Prots had 12 kills and a match-high six aces on 17 service points, senior Ali Polidori had 11 kills and a match-high 28 assists and junior Gianna Silvestri had 10 kills to lead the Vikings (5-0, 5-0).
Prior to the match, Harnett Central honored six seniors: Harper Howell, Carlie Gardner, Kayla Sadowski, Angel Noto, Syniah McMiller and Laurie Blackwell.
“You sit there and you watch JV games and you think about how much you expect girls to grow,” said Harnett Central coach Chelsey Cabe. “And I know they sit on the sides and watch the JV games and think, ‘Were we like that? Did we do that?’ And you think about it and you were. And so, to watch a kid grow in skills is amazing. But to watch them grow in maturity, as far as their decisions and their ability to interact with people and their ability to lead, I think that’s even more impressive. I’m super proud of the way that they’re growing, not only as players, but as people, and their ability to overcome odds.”
The first set was a marathon session, going multiple extra points before an error and a Prots kill on an overpass gave the set to the Vikings.
The second set was also close until, holding an 18-17 lead, the Vikings finished the set on a 7-2 run to take a 2-0 lead.
Late in the third set, Central trailed 18-15 before going on a 10-2 run, capped by a Jones kill on an overpass to keep the match alive.
The fourth set was tied 18-18 when a Beltran kill, assisted by Harrell, started Central on a 7-4 run to send the match into a decisive fifth set.
Central held a 10-9 lead in the fifth set before Union Pines ended the match with six unanswered points, including four aces from Prots.
Harnett Central won the junior varsity match 2-0.
Harnett Central travels to conference and Harnett County rival Western Harnett on Thursday.
“I told them, ‘Even though this was a loss, a lot of good things happened. When we go to Western Thursday, it needs to continue to happen,’” Gaines said.