Eagles looking to pull home upset Tuesday against McMichael

Eastern Alamance junior volleyball player Maddie Lawson recorded four service aces for the Eagles in a recent victory over Morehead. EAHS, which got off to a 6-5 start over its first 11 matches of the season, recently won matches against Rockingham and Morehead, while dropping conference battles against Northern Guilford and Western Alamance. The Eagles return to action at home Tuesday evening inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium with another Mid-State Conference match against McMichael, who is currently in second place in the league standings.

Eastern Alamance’s volleyball team split a series of four Mid-State Conference matches over a ten-day period between September 10 and September 19. The Eagles picked up a straight set victory at home over Rockingham County on September 12, and added a road win at Morehead on September 17. Sandwiched around those pair of victories was a road loss at Northern Guilford on September 10, and a frustrating five-set loss at Western Alamance on September 19. 

Against Northern Guilford, the Eagles got off to a sluggish start, but showed heart in rallying to force a fourth game after getting beaten the first two game. After struggling in the opening round in a 25-13 loss, the Eagles played the Nighthawks much tougher in the second game, but came away with a 29-19 loss.  

Staring down a sweep, the Eagles put it together for one of their better individual games of the season thus far. EAHS took control and dominated the Nighthawks, 25-16, in the third game to stretch the match to a fourth game. The third game win gave the Eagles momentum, and they took it into the fourth, holding close to the Nighthawks. Unfortunately for the Eagles, however, Northern Guilford got a couple key points down the stretch, and managed to hang on for a 25-23 win. 

EAHS didn’t allow the Northern Guilford loss to hold them down for long, as they returned to Mebane two nights later and crushed Rockingham inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium. The Eagles were cohesive and in control, beating the Cougars in three games by scores of 25-20, 25-18, and 25-16. 

The following week, the Eagles hit the road again for an important match at Morehead. And while the Panthers came away with the first game in a nip-and-tuck 26-24 battle, the Eagles pulled away over the final three games, winning them all to get back in the win column. Following the narrow loss in the opening game, EAHS came back and held off another furious Panthers charge to claim a 25-20 win. 

Things got easier for the Eagles after they withstood Morehead’s early push, as Eastern claimed the third game, 25-15, and then the fourth game, 25-18, to take the victory. EAHS got 15 kills from sophomore Kamari Mims in the triumph over the Panthers, while junior Maddie Lawson added four service aces and senior Madison Hartley an additional three service aces. 

Sophomore Tanyla Smith had a big game on defense in the win over Morehead, contributing four blocks, while junior Kyra Henderson added 10 digs, and Mims eight digs in the winning effort. Junior Reagan Hartley added nine service returns, which helped the Eagles get their attack going on numerous points. 

The Western Alamance match was one that really would have helped the Eagles in their pursuit of a state playoff berth, but it could wind up being one of those matches that helps inspire the team for better results as the season winds down. Things started off well enough for Eastern, as the Eagles jumped to an early lead and held on for a 25-20 win in the opening game. Western was the better team in the second game, as they exacted some revenge for Eastern’s fast start with a 25-16 win. 

From there, the final three games of the match was a desperate struggle for survival, with both teams fighting it out bitterly for each and every point. EAHS had a chance to win the crucial third set, but some key points for the Warriors down the stretch led to a 25-22 win, and chance to put Eastern away in the fourth game. But with their backs to the wall, the Eagles showed some more fight, handling a series of key points to claim a 25-21 win and force a tiebreaking fifth game. 

EAHS was right there with a chance to prevail in the tiebreaker, but more bounces went the way of the Warriors, as they surged ahead and took the match, 15-11. But despite the disappointing loss, it was evidence that Eastern could play with one of the better teams in the Mid-State Conference. Through six league games, Western was tied with Northern Guilford for third place in the standings with a 4-2 mark, with EAHS holding fifth place with a 3-3 record. A state playoff berth is still a possibility for the Eagles, but they will have to play well over the next four weeks to merit a postseason spot. 

This week, the Eagles take on McMichael Tuesday night, while on Thursday, EAHS travels to Northeast Guilford to face a Rams squad that the Eagles shut out in three games back in early September. 

McMichael presents one of the biggest challenges yet this fall for the Eagles, as they come to Mebane sporting a 15-4 overall record, and a 5-1 conference mark, placing the Phoenix in second place, just one game behind first place Person. It would be a huge match for the Eagles to win as they try to pursue the postseason.