Raiders eliminated in state quarterfinal bout at South Granville

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 11:51 PM

First-year Southern Vance head coach April Abbott thought she saw “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Southern entered Saturday’s state quarterfinal match at South Granville having lost all nine sets to the Vikings this season. The Raiders finally got a win Saturday, taking the second set 25-19 to even the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A playoff match.

“But that was quickly shut up,” Abbott said of the glimmer of hope.

South Granville (25-5) responded with a 25-15 win in the third set before clinching a 3-1 match win with the decisive 25-17 victory in the final set. The top-seeded Vikings, who took the first set 25-23, advanced to the state semifinals to meet No. 1 Wheatmore (26-1) of Trinity.

South Granville didn’t lose a Northern Carolina Conference match all season, including two with Southern in the regular season and one in the league tourney championship game.

“Southern Vance is a really well-coached team,” said Vikings’ head coach Christy Fitzgerald. “April has done an amazing job with them. Coming in after having beat them three times, I was very nervous. I knew that they would be very hungry to get revenge on us. I knew that if we let down at all, they were going to sneak up on us.”

Abbott, who won a state championship at Southern as a player in 2002, is not one for moral victories or consolation prizes. She told her second-seed Raiders (19-6) they deserved to go deeper in the playoffs.

“Just because you deserve it doesn’t mean it’s going to be handed to you,” said Abbott. “You have to work for it. We had four out of our six on the court tonight not working to their potential, two people trying to hold it together. And that doesn’t work for a team.”

Team is the best way to describe South Granville, which has two seniors on its roster after reaching the 2-A state final last season.

The Vikings aren’t overly tall or athletic.

“It’s their experience,” said Abbott. “They’ve had more formal training than our girls have had. I think our team athletically is just as good if not better. But their mentality and volleyball knowledge was better than us.”

Brittany West led Southern with 12 kills, Megan Hight had nine kills and seven blocks and Allyson Dunn added 10 digs.

Southern used a 9-1 rally to clinch the second set that saw a trio of emphatic West kills and a game-clinching block from Hight that brought the sizeable traveling Raider support to its feet.

“It’s like they wanted it really bad for a spurt,” Abbott said of her team. “Then it was kind of over. They were satisfied with winning only one set.”

Cayce Bell, one of South Granville’s two seniors, recorded the final points for the home team in the match-deciding game.

Southern, which was making its first state playoff appearance since 2009, will lose six seniors for next season.

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