Riverside loses 5-set heartbreaker in volleyball quarterfinals
BY DAN E. WAY
Special to The Herald-Sun
DURHAM — Riverside had things working in its favor, hosting Raleigh Wakefield in the Pirates’ House of Pain, where they were 15-0 this season amid a 26-match winning streak.
But the visiting Wolverines, behind a pair of ferocious power hitters, scuttled the Pirates and put an end to a Cinderella season.
“We were up 2-1 and we needed to find a way to close out the match and we didn’t do it,” Riverside coach Mike Hodge said. “I was disappointed in that. This is a difficult loss.”
The Pirates weren’t the only area team to be eliminated in Saturday’s state quarterfinals. They were joined by Voyager Academy (1-A) and Cedar Ridge (3-A). Of the five area teams in the quarterfinals, only Chapel Hill (3-A) and South Granville (2-A) advanced.
The Pirates huddled after the game, still in a state of disbelief that their march to the state finals was over after the quarterfinal match ended on a sour note.
“It’s important for me to stay strong for my girls because they were all weeping when we were done. So I’m like dad, I can’t start bawling in the middle of the circle,” Hodge said.
“I talked to them about their winning streak. I talked to them about when we started out we didn’t have a center, we didn’t have a right side, we didn’t have a second middle,” Hodge said.
“We were able to find the pieces and we went on a 26-match win streak. What a ride. You can’t argue about that. I’ve got four or five players on the all-conference team and I’ve got potentially the player of the year on my team so we have a lot of things to be thankful and celebrate,” he said.
Wakefield stunned the Pirates with a 25-12 blowout in the first set, which Hodge attributed to “an issue of nerves.”
Riverside won the next two sets 26-24 and 25-22, but fell 25-21 in the fourth set and 15-12 in the deciding set.
“The close-out set is the hardest set to win,” Hodge said. “Sometimes it don’t go your way. Today it didn’t go our way. I tip my hat to Wakefield. They’ve got a very strong team.”
“I’m just so proud of my team. We’re one step closer to our state championship,” said Darian Mack, Wakefield’s dominating outside hitter who scored 18 kills with monstrous smashes. She and teammate Maya Muldrow, who had 19 kills, owned the net all night.
“I just try to go high hands and sometimes they leave the block open and I have to take advantage of it. Sometimes they’re not there and I love it,” Mack said.
“Our first set we were just like, ‘Oh well, we’ve got it,’ and they took advantage” of the overconfidence, winning the next two games.
Wakefield Coach Cynthia Terrell said it was “the most phenomenal game” of the season.
“We’ve done something that no other team in history has ever done at our school in volleyball,” she said. “We got derailed by Leesville last year, but this makes it all worthwhile.” It was in the quarterfinals that Wakefield bowed out last year.
“I think we’re all sad, but I think we had an amazing season,” said Rachel Kallianos, Riverside’s standout sophomore outside hitter who led her team with 27 kills and 9 digs.
“I don’t think any of us thought we’d come this far. We all wanted it so bad. We all left our hearts out on the floor and I thought it was a great game,” she said. “I’m so honored to play with my seniors this year.”
“We made key mistakes in the end,” said Moné Jones, a junior middle hitter who had 11 kills. “The fourth set was really crucial and we lost the fourth set. They went on a 6-0 run and that kind of switched the momentum a little bit. We fought hard through everything, through all the adversity of this game and I’m so proud of my team.
“People doubted us coming into this season,” Jones said. “They didn’t think we were going to be 26-1, but now look at us. We were in the quarterfinals with Wakefield, neck and neck.”
NCHSAA 4-A QUARTERFINAL
Wakefield 3, Riverside 2
12-25, 26-24, 25-22, 21-25, 12-15
Wakefield leaders — Maya Muldrow 19 kills, Darian Mack 18 kills, Jordan Glass 12 digs, Ashley Assa 12 digs, Gabby Benda 61 assists.
Riverside leaders — Rachel Kallianos 27 kills, 9 digs; Yakima Clifton 11 kills, 5 digs, 7 blocks; Moné Jones 11 kills, 2 blocks; Zariya Thomas 10 kills, 6 digs; Victoria Pearce 20 digs; Casey Speer 50 assists, 5 digs.
Records — Wakefield 23-2; Riverside 26-2.
Trinity falls in 2-A NCISAA title match
RALEIGH — It took a team from the Palmetto state to dash the Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association title hopes.
Westminster Catawba Christian School of Rock Hill, S.C., rallied from two sets down to win the final three sets — including a 20-18 edge in the tiebreaking fifth — to down the Lions at St. David’s School in Raleigh Saturday.
The deciding set was scheduled to go to 15 points, but the winner had to win by at least two points, thus the extension.
Trinity won the opening two sets 25-22 and 25-21 before Westminster Catawba rallied for 25-20, 25-18 wins to even the match.
“It was an exciting, well-played, well-coached match,” first-year Trinity coach Wade Heverly said. “There was good, balanced play all around.”
Westminster qualified for the NCISAA tournament because it plays in a Charlotte-area league.
“My parents were here and tried to find a silver lining,” Heverly said. “They said we’re the North Carolina champions.”
Anna Eckstein led the balanced Lions attack with 17 kills and Ali Ruffing added 10. Erin Turner was big up front with four blocks.
Cardinal Gibbons 3, Cedar Ridge 0
RALEIGH — Undefeated four-time reigning state champion Cardinal Gibbons eliminated its Big Eight 3-A Conference co-runner-up, Cedar Ridge, in straight sets 25-14, 25-9, 25-10 in a state quarterfinal match Saturday.
It was the third meeting between the two teams this season and Gibbons (26-0), ranked 2nd in the state and 40th nationally, swept all nine sets played.
Cedar Ridge (23-8) tied Chapel Hill for second behind Gibbons in Big Eight play this season.
Bailey Freeman led Cedar Ridge with five kills, while Cass Michal had 12 assists and Mary Anderson four digs.
Cardinal Gibbons 3, Cedar Ridge 0
25-14, 25-9, 25-10
Cedar Ridge leaders — Cass Michal 12 assists, Bailey Freeman 5 kills, Mary Anderson 4 digs.
Records — Cedar Ridge 23-8, Cardinal Gibbons 26-0.
Chapel Hill 3, Wilson Fike 0
WILSON — Chapel Hill (22-8) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2003 with a 25-14, 25-20, 25-7 sweep at Wilson Fike (21-5) Saturday night.
Perry Ramsey scored 20 points on 15 kills, four blocks and an ace, Katharine Esterley has 12.5 points on seven kills and 5.5 blocks and Annie Linker had 26 assists for the Tigers.
Chapel Hill, which tied for second in the Big Eight 3-A Conference regular season behind undefeated Cardinal Gibbons, will face those same Crusaders Tuesday night, tentatively at 7 p.m., for the East Region championship.
Chapel Hill 3, Wilson Fike 0
25-14, 25-20, 25-7
Chapel Hill leaders — Annie Linker 26 assists, 2 aces, 1 block, 4 digs; Perry Ramsey 1 ace, 15 kills, 4 blocks, 4 digs; Catherine Romaine 10 kills, 5 digs; Katharine Esterley 7 kills, 5.5 blocks; Madison Gunning 5 aces, 17 service points (9 straight in 3rd set), 15 digs; Katie Huge 2 aces, 15 service points, 5 digs;
Records — Chapel Hill 22-8, Fike 21-5.
South Granville 3, Southern Vance 1
CREEDMOOR — South Granville advanced to within one win of repeating an appearance in the 2-A state title match Saturday, downing its Northern Carolina 2-A Conference regular-season runner-up, Southern Vance, 3-1 in the state quarterfinals.
South Granville (25-5), which lost in the state title match a year ago, plays in the state semifinals — the East Region title game — Tuesday at Trinity Wheatmore (26-1).
Raleigh Charter 3, Voyager 0
CARY — Voyager Academy fell to its North Central 1-A Athletic Conference co-champion — Raleigh Charter (20-3) — in the state 1-A quarterfinals at Cary Academy.
Voyager (19-4) had to play on Raleigh Charter’s home floor because RC had won a coin flip to get the No. 1 seed from the NCAC.