RALEIGH — Saturday was no day off for the Raleigh Grace Christian or St. Mary’s volleyball teams, but both coaches are used to that.
Rita Stubbs and Jim Freeman have each been college coaches; Stubbs led N.C. State, and Freeman headed up the men’s and women’s teams at Barton College in Wilson.
Both are hoping their high school teams were able to use the non-conference match as one to build on heading into the latter half of conference play and state playoffs, which begin in the last full week of October. St. Mary’s got the better of Grace in a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-21, 25-8).
“They’re doing a really good job of doing what we’ve asked,” said Freeman, who won 10 state titles as head coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School but is in his first year at St. Mary’s. “Anytime you get a new coach, there are some new changes, and they’ve adapted well. They work hard and play hard.”
The Saints were led by the all-around play of their star, Maddie Plumlee, a verbal commit to Notre Dame.
The junior had 19 kills, 13 digs and six aces.
St. Mary’s Emma McClymont had a team-high 20 assists while teammate Wesley Neal Stallings had 17 digs.
The Saints trailed 14-5 in the second game before rallying. St. Mary’s closed out the match winning 45 of the last 60 points.
“We’ve had moments when we’ve been great and ones where we’ve been decent, but maintaining that consistency is a big thing for us,” Plumlee said. “We’re on a new path with a new coach and we finally have the right mindset and determination to get where we want to be.”
Stubbs, in her third season at Grace and now the school’s athletics director, has led her team to back-to-back N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs.
But this year’s team is young.
After finishing with 10 kills in 18 chances in the varsity game, freshman Leah Edmond warmed up for the following junior varsity game.
“(The season) has been up and down because you’re dealing with the emotions of a 13-, 14-year-old,” said Stubbs. “Like today, some kids played out of their minds. ... This was the fastest pace we’ve seen, so you could tell those who didn’t understand the pace of the game and how it dictated how they were going.”
Edmond was second to senior Lydia Rooth in kills by Eagles players. Rooth had 11 while committing just two errors in 25 attacking chances.
Grace (9-6, 6-3) is currently third in its first season as part of the Eastern Plains Independent 2A Conference, behind St. David’s and Cary Christian. St. Mary’s (8-11, 1-6) is fourth in the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic 3A Conference.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps