APEX — Apex senior libero Melissa Mayfield reminded her fellow Cougar volleyball players something very important midway through their second-round playoff matchup against Sanderson.
Mayfield told her teammates, “You have to want game two!”
The Cougars had claimed the first game from the visiting Spartans 25-21, but were in a tight second contest, and the senior sensed her mates needed some encouragement.
Apex responded in a big way, going on a 13-6 run to win 25-20 and then cruising in the third 25-14 to advance to the third round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs.
The Cougars (18-4) will host unbeaten Leesville Road on Thursday.
“Just because we win the first one doesn’t guarantee us the match,” said Mayfield, who was a member of the 2010 state championship squad. “We were able to stay confident though and spread out the hits and draw their blockers away.”
The Cougars balanced scoring attack was led by a sophomore, a junior and a senior. The youngest of the trio, Ally Beckman, led Apex with 13 kills and five aces, while junior Brianna Belicic posted 11 kills and Megan Hooks added 10.
Beckman’s power shot to close the second game came off a perfectly placed pass from Chasey Gelston.
Overall, Apex head coach Emily Regan was very pleased with the Cougars serve-receives and passing.
The Cougars also had to get the ball past Sanderson’s Nzea McQuitery (10 kills), whose height forced Apex to get creative at times with their shots.
“We knew coming in that Sanderson was not your typical 3-seed, they’re a very good team,” said Regan. “I could tell how amped up and mentally prepared our girls were tonight. In the playoffs you have to give it your whole heart and they did.”
The Spartans, who finished behind Leesville Road and Wakefield in the Cap-8, were paced by Maureen Celentano (8 kills) and Kimmy Thompson (5 kills). Co-captains Natalie Bouchard (5 kills) and libero Nina Centino, along with McQuitery, will be graduating in 2013.
Sanderson concluded its season 14-7.