Raiders roll into second round of state playoffs
Southern Vance and Cardinal Gibbons aren’t in the same conference anymore. They aren’t even in the same classification.
But Southern head coach April Abbott is using the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A powerhouse as the barometer for how her team prepares entering the unknown of the 2-A state playoffs.
The second-seeded Raiders of the Northern Carolina Conference dominated No. 3 Ayden-Grifton of the Eastern Carolina Conference Saturday 3-0 (25-10, 25-9, 25-11).
Southern (17-5) will travel to Farmville Central (20-3) Tuesday. The top-seeded Jaguars defeated No. 4 Franklinton (13-10) Saturday 3-1.
Abbott would have prepared her team the same way regardless of that outcome.
“When we practice, we practice as if we’re going to play against Cardinal Gibbons,” said Abbott. “That’s how intense our practices have been lately. We’re just going to pick it up a notch the next couple of practices and hope that takes us as far as we can go.”
It’s taken them to the second round of the playoffs so far. There, they’ll meet a Jaguars team that finished the Eastern Plains Conference regular season unbeaten before falling to Washington in the league tourney title game.
Farmville Central’s other two losses came to 4-A Winterville South Central and 3-A Wilson Fike.
The winner of the Southern-Farmville Central game will face either top-seeded South Lenoir (17-2) or the winner of No. 2 Currituck (11-5) against No. 3 Bunn (16-6).
Abbott said the Raiders worked on blocking and covering their hitters in the last few practices leading up to Saturday.
“And today, even though they didn’t really have to use it much,” said Abbott, “I could see them doing what was right.”
Senior Kiyanna Kearney led Southern with 12 kills and three aces against an overmatched Charger team.
Brittany West had eight aces and three kills and Allyson Dunn tallied 12 digs, but teamwork was the theme for the Raiders.
“We worked together as a team,” said Kearney. “Communication and covering and blocks. That’s basically what we did, working as a team.”
“I think we all played well today,” added senior Megan Hight. “We played like a team. Everybody’s head was in it.”
Hight and Kearney said the team was motivated to not let this be their final game.
Southern was coming off a 3-0 loss to South Granville in the Northern Carolina tourney championship.
“For the first time in a while, our team worked together the whole time,” said Abbott. “That was something we struggled with in the championship game and the last couple of practices helped us with that.”
“They did play together today more than trying to play as individuals,” Abbott added. “The more they understand that, the further they are going to go. They have fundamentals. They have volleyball knowledge. They just have to put it together as a team.”
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.