A-G falters in volleyball season-opener

A-G falters in volleyball season-opener

Ayden-Grifton coach Linda Bryant talks to her team during Monday's season-opening match. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

AYDEN -- Chargers fans hope history can repeat itself for Ayden-Grifton’s volleyball team.

Last season, the Chargers had a historic 21-3 campaign, topped off with a fourth-round appearance in the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs and the school’s first conference title since 1976. However, all that came with a loss in Ayden-Grifton’s home opener to Williamston Riverside.

On Monday, déjà vu struck again — this time in a season-opening home loss to Winterville South Central. A-G had numerous opportunities, but fell 22-25, 20-25, 25-21, 21-25 to the Falcons.

“This will definitely help us out,” Chargers coach Linda Bryant said. “Any time you’re playing a 4A school it helps, and I told the girls even though (South Central) is young, they’ve got some very talented players. Sometimes, we take things for granted — the girls know they’re good — but the performance has to showcase that.”

The Chargers (0-1) scored the first point in each set, with the opening one becoming a back-and-forth affair with 13 ties and seven lead changes. Ayden-Grifton took a 14-10 advantage on an Emily Dykes block, but South Central (1-0) fought back, scoring the next four to tie and make the game close from there. Neither team garnered an advantage greater than two until Brylee Phillips’ kill ended the set.

In the second set, the Chargers went ahead 9-6 on Zion Hardy’s kill, but the Falcons scored 10 of the next 12 points to take advantage. Ayden-Grifton wouldn’t get closer than three for the rest of the set to put the team on the brink.

South Central seemed poised to sweep after scoring five unanswered to take a 17-14 advantage, but Ayden-Grifton responded with a 7-1 run, punctuated by Alexia Bryant’s spike. The Falcons got within 22-20, but the Chargers kept their distance, finally winning the set on an unforced error from South Central.

The Chargers scored the first three points of the fourth set, but the Falcons soared with nine unanswered, ending the run on a Reagan Cunningham kill. South Central took a 13-7 lead, but Ayden-Grifton fought back, eventually going up 18-17 on a Dykes block. From there, South Central closed the game on an 8-3 run to spoil the start to Ayden-Grifton’s season.

Falcons coach Kayla Ruffin said the team had to go through some early jitters but were able to make it through.

“We usually don’t look like this,” Ruffin said. “We had some miscommunications, but it’s a learning experience and I think Wednesday (against Wilson Fike) will be a lot better.”

Ayden-Grifton will face C.B. Aycock Tuesday on the road before traveling to Williamston Riverside two days later.

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