Three local teams prepare for volleyball state playoffs Tuesday
Ayden-Grifton's Jordan Cannon. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
The road to the NCHSAA 2A championship game goes through Little Hollywood.
Ayden-Grifton received the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Bracket after a 20-1 regular season, including the Chargers’ second straight Eastern Carolina Conference championship. The first round of the playoffs start Tuesday and Ayden-Grifton will host No. 32 Northeastern at 6 p.m.
Chargers coach Linda Bryant said having the top spot is a new experience, but the team will be ready.
“It feels great for the kids and it’s one of the goals we set,” Bryant said. “They know what to expect in the playoffs after making it to the fourth round (last year), so I’ve been reiterating ‘don’t forget that everyone is trying to knock off the No. 1 seed.’ This is the playoffs and we have to play our best. This is it or nothing.”
Ayden-Grifton had won 18 consecutive straight-set matches, but West Craven took the Chargers to five in the season-finale Saturday. Bryant said it could prove to be beneficial as the team heads into the postseason.
“I’m a little glad the game went into five sets,” Bryant said. “I wanted to see how they would do under adversity because we hadn’t lost a set in a while. West Craven picked up the momentum with two sets in a row, so it was good to see our girls fight through adversity and win.”
North Lenoir will be hosting its first home game since 2015 as the No. 10 seed. After finishing second in the ECC and riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, the Hawks (16-4) will take on No. 23 Roanoke Rapids at 6 p.m.
“We’re excited getting to host a home game,” North Lenoir coach Heather Carson said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had one and I hope we come out and play well. It’s a new season and if we don’t, we go home.”
South Lenoir is the third local ECC team to make it to the postseason, coming in with the No. 26 seed. The Blue Devils (10-9) travel to face No. 7 South Columbus at 4:30 p.m., and an upset victory could set up a third matchup between North Lenoir and South Lenoir in the second round.
“It’s a brand new season and everyone’s 0-0,” South Lenoir coach Lisa Smith said. “The way we’ve always looked at it is before conference, conference play and the playoffs. Hopefully, we’ll go in with a new frame of mind and try to play to the best of our abilities.”