After a grueling series of early non-conference matchups, including a pair of setbacks against undefeated Cedar Ridge, Eastern Alamance’s volleyball squad was ready to roll as it got going with Mid-State Conference play this week.
After getting off to a 2-2 start, with two losses to Cedar Ridge and wins over Cummings and Graham, the Eagles opened conference play with a three-set sweep of Northeast Guilford on Tuesday, followed by another three-set sweep of Williams on Wednesday. Both matches were at home inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium.
The Eagles were absolutely dominant in the victory over Northeast Guilford, crushing the Rams by scores of 25-3, 25-5, and 25-5. Eastern made fast work of Northeast behind solid volleying, quality serving, and good defense around the net. The Rams had no chance, as Eastern built big early leads in all three sets and cruised to the win.
EAHS dominated the net area in the victory over the Rams, with senior Ashleigh Taylor and sophomore Makiya Graves picking up five kills each, and sophomore Loren Crabbe adding four kills. As a team, the Eagles put away a total of 21 kills against Northeast.
Junior Ryan Foy was excellent on the serve against the Rams, contributing six service aces, while fellow eleventh graders Maddie Lawson and Kyra Henderson also got six aces. The Eagles continuously found holes in the porous Northeast Guilford defense, as the team recorded a whopping 27 service aces - more than a third of the team’s total points in the match.
It was also a pretty easy match defensively for the Eagles, as they didn’t have to block a single shot attempt by the Rams. Only two EAHS players - back line defenders Foy and Reagan Hartley - had digs in the match. Hartley led the way with four digs, while Foy picked up three.
The following day, Eastern stayed home in Mebane, returning to non-conference play with a tilt against local rival Williams. Although this match proved to be much more difficult, Eastern once again came away with a victory, sweeping the Bulldogs 25-17, 25-18, and 25-19 to improve to 4-2 on the season. Beating Williams was important for the Eagles from the standpoint of picking up a key non-conference win that could help their chances come state playoff selection time.
Junior Addison Curl and sophomore Kamari Mims had monster games offensively in the win over the Bulldogs, with each spiking their way to 10 kills. Mims also contributed three blocks in the winning effort. Crabbe added eight more kills for the Eagles, who pounded down a total of 41 finishing shots against the Bulldogs resistance. Foy kept up her strong serving with a total of nine service aces, while Reagan Hartley also came through with nine service aces in the triumph. Foy and Hartley also added 16 digs to aid Eastern’s defensive effort against the Bulldogs.
The Eagles’ two-match win streak was snapped on Thursday in Roxboro, as EAHS was beaten in three sets on the road at Person. The Rockets, who are off to a 5-1 start this season, overwhelmed Eastern early on, winning the opening set by a commanding score of 25-7. Playing its third match in as many days, the Eagles were clearly a little tired, which didn’t help against a solid team that went 21-5 a year ago.
Eastern got better as the match went on, but it wasn’t quite enough to get them a set. EAHS dropped the second set, 25-13, and then played a very competitive third set, but still fell, 25-21. The setback dropped Eastern’s overall record to 3-2. Sophomore Lauren Crabbe had five of Eastern’s 12 kills in the match, while senior Madison Hartley had EAHS’s only service ace. Reagan Hartley led the way defensively with six digs, while her sister Madison added four.
The Eagles have two matches next week - a road match at Northern Guilford on Tuesday (September 10), and a home match back in Mebane on Thursday (September 12) against Rockingham. The two matches are excellent opportunities for the Eagles to get off on the right foot in conference play.