Chapel Hill, S. Granville dig in with finals in sight
Winning tonight means getting on the court Saturday in N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum to play for a state volleyball championship.
Cardinal Gibbons always seems to be standing in Chapel Hill’s way when it comes to that sort of thing. Those two ball clubs will dig in this evening at 7 p.m. during the semifinals of the 3-A playoffs, a match that will end the season for one of them.
“It’s a round later this time,” Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris said.
Cardinal Gibbons knocked Chapel Hill out of the playoffs in the fourth round a year ago and went on to win its fourth straight state championship.
Here they are, again, the Crusaders and the Tigers, representing the Big Eight Conference.
“It’s because we’re the two best programs,” Norris said.
The Crusaders (26-0) will host Norris’ Tigers (22-8).
It’s a Cardinal Gibbons team that dropped just one set all season, Norris said.
“They play with that type of confidence because they have that mystique around them,” Norris said.
Chapel Hill actually nabbed that lone set from Cardinal Gibbons, and what the Tigers need to understand is that they play strong volleyball just like the Crusaders, Norris said. The Tigers have to avoid beating themselves with unforced mistakes such as serving errors and fouls at the net, she said.
Norris is taking nothing away from Cardinal Gibbons, not signing off on the notion that the Crusaders could be vulnerable because they haven’t really been tested.
“Volleyball is such a game of momentum, and it’s all about momentum,” Norris said. “When people get rattled, you can’t snap them out of it a lot of times.”
Vikings relying on team approach to reach finals
South Granville coach Christy Fitzgerald was doing homework Monday.
“Research, research, research,” Fitzgerald said.
The Vikings (25-5) will travel to Trinity, near Thomasville, to deal with Wheatmore (26-1) in the 2-A playoffs this evening at 7 p.m.
“Everybody else might be looking at us as the underdog, but when I look at it on paper, I see two very evenly matched teams,” Fitzgerald said.
Wheatmore has big hitters, but so does South Granville, Fitzgerald said. And the Vikings’ blocking game is just as mean as the Warriors’, she said.
So what if the Vikings have to win on the road to join those clubs playing for state titles at NCSU this weekend, Fitzgerald said.
“We’ve played well on the road all year,” Fitzgerald said. “It doesn’t seem to affect us. It doesn’t seem to throw the girls off too much.
“When they come to play, they come to play.”
South Granville was the runner-up for the state title a year ago under another coach.
Vikings seniors Casey Ellington and Cayce Bell are the heart and soul of the team, but South Granville has been eight strong all season and that’s how the crew from Creedmoor will show up for work tonight, Fitzgerald said.