Eastern Alamance’s volleyball team played its home opener in Tal Jobe Gymnasium Wednesday afternoon against local rival Graham. Coming off a disappointing three set loss at Cedar Ridge in Hillsborough in Monday’s season opener, the Eagles were eager to get back on the court and pick up their first victory of the season.
Mission accomplished, as the Eagles outplayed Graham from the outset and defeated the Red Devils in straight sets to improve to 1-1 overall on the young season. Despite the fact that they were playing without Loren Crabbe, one of the team’s top players, the Eagles took control early and held off several attempts by Graham to battle back.
After taking care of business for a 25-13 win in the first set, Eastern jumped out to a fast 5-1 lead in the second set and continued to build on it, as Maddie Lawson served the Eagles to a 9-3 cushion before a blocked shot by Graham gave the Red Devils possession. Eastern quickly regained control, however, as an ace by Addison Curl made the score 11-4.
A spike by Kamari Mims gave the Eagles a decisive 12-5 advantage, and Reagan Hartley served EAHS to four more consecutive points, including two straight aces, as the lead widened to 16-5. Graham got it going briefly, scoring three points to pull within 17-8, but a spike by Ashleigh Taylor quickly got things back in order for the Eagles.
Ryan Foy served an ace to make the score 20-8, and after Graham rallied some more, a hard spike by Tanyla Smith was unreturned by the Red Devils, which gave Eastern a 24-14 lead. An out-of-bounds serve by Graham gave the Eagles the second set, 25-15.
The third set was a little more competitive, as Graham got off to a better start and played EAHS much tougher, taking a 9-8 lead over the Eagles. EAHS finally took a 10-9 lead following an attempted Graham return that hit one of the support columns in the roof.
Although Graham briefly tied it, 10-10, Taylor got another key spike for the Eagles, giving the home team an 11-10 advantage. An ace by Madison Hartley made it 12-10, but once again the Red Devils rallied, tying the score 12-12.
Foy helped EAHS take control of the third set, serving four straight points for a 17-12 lead, with some help from Taylor and Curl finishing plays around the net. And while Graham tried to keep it close, briefly pulling within 17-14, EAHS got a favorable call on a close bounce in the corner, and No. 5 served the Eagles to two more successive points for a 20-14 lead.
From there, Eastern finished off the match with an out-of-bounds service by Graham (21-15), and three straight service points by Lawson, which made match point with a 24-15 lead. On a hard-fought back-and-forth volley, Reagan Hartley ended it with a hard shot that wasn’t returned by the Red Devils. The 25-15 third set triumph was all the more impressive for the Eagles in that they recorded 13 of the final 16 points.
Eastern, now 1-1 on the season, returns to game action Tuesday (August 27) with a home match in Mebane against Cummings. The Eagles will then host Cedar Ridge Thursday evening (August 29) in a rematch of the season opener.