Chargers advance to second round of playoffs
Photo by Scott Cole / Neuse News
Ayden-Grifton, the No. 1 2A seed in the NCHSAA volleyball playoffs, advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a straight-set rout of Eiizabeth City Northeastern Tuesday night, their 21st consecutive victory.
“I’m very happy with how we played tonight,” Chargers coach Linda Bryant said. “It wasn’t a yo-yo, back and forth game. We even put some of the JV girls in for some experience and we didn’t lose a step. We kept flowing and playing our style, not letting up.”
The Chargers started off the first set on fire. After winning back the opening serve, Ayden-Grifton rode on the back of Jordan Cannon, their first server, to earn seven points to start the game 8-0.
Zion Hardy had several devastating spikes in the first set that ripped right into the heart of the Eagles’ defense. Hardy closed out the set with two serves to clinch the 25-10 win, with Lexi Bryant delivering the final spike to end it. Bryant had 10 kills and six digs.
The Eagles kept it closer to start off the second set; they battled the Chargers, keeping it to 6-2. Ayden-Grifton slowly started to pull away, dropping shots into empty spots in the Eagles’ zone. Hardy would again be the final server of the set, winning it 25-8. Emily Dykes had several key spikes during the final set. Hardy would lead the team with 11 kills and seven digs.
“Personally, I felt like I could’ve done better, but as a team, we accomplished what we needed to do tonight,” Dykes said. “We focused more on winning this one and closing it out than thinking about the tiny mistakes we made. Focusing on what needed to be done helped us win this one today.”
Dykes finished the game with 10 kills and seven aces.
“If we can get our passes to Zion or Emily, that is a big part of our game,” Bryant said. “When they start slamming down spikes, it does make other players a little intimidated because of their power. Zion, especially, is our leader and when she can set the tone for us, we can get going quick.”
Both teams traded the first three points to start the third set. Dykes, as server, began to drill the ball into the heart of the Eagles and helped put the Chargers on a 6-0 run. A mini rally by Northeastern was quickly snuffed out when Aaleyah Garris set up Hardy for a powerful spike into the middle of the Eagles’ defenders. The third set ended for the Chargers almost as it began, with Dykes going on a 6-0 run.
“This game was a lot of fun,” Garris said. “We worked hard and worked great together. It feels really good to get this first win out of the way and now we gotta prepare for Thursday night.” Garris would have five digs for the team.
Northeastern coach Kandis Rainey complimented the A-G effort.
“We played a very tough team,” she said. “We are a young team and made a lot of mistakes that ended up beating ourselves. But they did pick us apart. They are a great team and I hope we get to face them against next year.”
Ayden-Grifton will host the Randleman Tigers, winners in three straight sets over Farmville Central, Thursday at 6 p.m.