Ayden-Grifton takes on Greene Central in first match after Florence
Ayden-Grifton’s Emily Dykes prepares a serve during the Charger’s win over Greene Central on Thursday. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy/Neuse News
SNOW HILL | For a pair of volleyball teams, a bit of normalcy was restored on Thursday.
Ayden-Grifton traveled to Greene Central for a match, the first in the wake of Hurricane Florence. The Chargers hadn’t played since Sept. 11 against Kinston and the Rams had their last game Sept. 6 against North Lenoir.
Ayden-Grifton picked up where they left off, as the defending Eastern Carolina Conference champions won 25-7, 25-15, 25-9, their 11th straight win and 10th by straight sets. Ayden-Grifton coach Linda Bryant said she had an optional practice set for Monday, and the entire team was in attendance.
“We came in Monday and had about a two-and-a-half hour practice with a lot of running to get back in shape,” Bryant said. “We worked on that, swings and repetition, trying to fine-tune our skills.”
The Chargers (11-1, 4-0 ECC) trailed for just two points the entire match, jumping out to a 5-0 start highlighted by a pair of Jordan Cannon service aces and eventually stretching the first-set lead to 14-1. The Rams (2-7, 1-2) wouldn’t get within 12 from there and Cannon ended the set with another ace.
“We were excited to just get out of the house and play volleyball again,” Cannon said. “It felt good to get back out there and win the game.”
Ayden-Grifton would jump out in the second set with a 6-1 advantage highlighted by kills from Zion Hardy and Emily Dykes. Greene Central would fall behind 21-10 but had a streak of five unanswered points, including a service ace from Abby Burress. The Chargers would take control from there with a 4-0 run with Dykes’ ace putting the team ahead 2-0 in sets.
“We practiced really hard Monday,” Dykes said. “We were struggling (Monday) and Tuesday, but Wednesday was a little better. We’re trying to get back to how we were playing (before the hurricane), keep winning and try not to drop a set.”
The Rams had a pair of leads in the third set and were tied at 5, but the Chargers exploded late with a 13-1 run.
Greene Central coach James Campbell said the team has to work on a few tactics.
“(Ayden-Grifton) definitely has some strong hitters up front,” Campbell said. “Our confidence as a team was up and down, and (the Chargers) took advantage. Our communication has to be better on the court.”