HOLLY SPRINGS — The Holly Springs Golden Hawks won their third conference vollleyball match in a row, as first-year coach Emily Rice's team swept visiting Panther Creek 25-17, 27-25, 28-26 Tuesday.
Rice's Hawks (6-4, 3-2) lost their first two Southwest Wake Athletic Conference games of the season but the young team is now on a roll.
Turning point: Trailing 18-15 in the second game, Holly Springs reeled off seven consecutive points on Blakely Barker’s serve. Barker had two aces, Kaelyn Dyson got a kill and a block and Jessica Buchanan had two kills.
Unsung hero: Jaclyn Brewington and Dyson scored a lot of points, but Barker's service game was clutch.
What worked: It's not in the boxscore, but communication among Holly Springs players was crucial.
“We were talking a lot,” Rice said. “We were working better. Over the course of the season, we’ve really improved in our back row and in communication all around. Our growth over the season is helping us push through. That's been evident in the last couple games.”
Panther Creek coach Lindsay O'Connell said her team handled serves well from a good serving team: “We prevented a lot of aces. They have a lot of tough servers, so credit to them.”
Needs improvement: O'Connell, also in her first year as coach, may law down the law in practice later this week to her Catamounts (4-5, 2-4).
“I definitely think we had the capability to compete with them more than we did,” O’Connell said. “We hesitated a little bit and didn’t really come in with the fire that I’ve seen in the last few games. That’s a little disappointing.”
Best quote: “We’re really improving," Rice said. “We’ve been playing to five games a lot, and I told them, ‘I guess y'’all just really like to play.’ But lately, we’ve been picking it up and getting the game done, sealing the deal.”
Going forward: Both teams will be in the battle for a playoff spot, but Holly Springs appears to be in a better position. There’s still plenty of time for Panther Creek too, but the Catamounts need to be focused on every game.