Cardinal Gibbons, Durham Riverside and Wakefield, the top three teams in The News & Observer high school volleyball rankings, advanced to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t easy for two of them.
Gibbons, 24-0 and the area’s top-ranked team, blew past Fayetteville Terry Sanford in three straight sets, but Riverside and Wakefield each had to win a Game Five to advance.
Riverside (25-1 and No. 2 in The N&O) was pressed by a 16-5 Fuquay-Varina team before claiming a 20-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-23 and 15-4 victory. Fuquay had been ranked No. 9 and was the third seed from the Southwest Wake 4A Conference, but was on the verge of upending the Pirates.
“That’s the best Fuquay has played,” Bengals coach Jeff Pagel said. “It was a great season and a great ride. These girls have been my family from Aug. 1 until now. It’s hard.”
Fuquay took a 18-15 lead in Game 4, but a service error led to 6-1 Riverside run.
Riverside’s Rachel Kallianos and Zariya Thomas led the Pirates with 21 kills each. Maddie Sonnendecker had 10 kills for the Bengals.
No. 3 Wakefield slipped past No. 4 Apex 25-17, 25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 15-13.
Wakefield (21-2) was the Cap Eight tournament champ. Apex (17-4) was the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference champ and was ranked fourth in the area.
“We knew Apex was going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Wakefield coach Cynthia Terrell said.
Apex pressured Wakefield’s back row with 14 aces, while Wakefield used its height advantage on 48 kills and 12 blocks.
“We’re really scrappy and aggressive at the net,” said Wakefield setter Gabrielle Benda, a Marquette recruit who had 38 assists.
Kentucky recruit Darian Mack had 15 kills, Cincinnati recruit Maya Muldrow had 14 and George Mason recruit Jordan Glass had six for the Wolverines. Julia Forbes had 10 kills.
“We pushed through (critical points),” Glass said.
Apex’s Ally Beckman had 15 kills and 26 assists, while teammates Bri Belicic had 14 kills and Abigail Veit had nine.
The Cap Eight advanced three teams: Wakefield, Broughton (18-2 and the No. 7 ranked team) and Millbrook (16-7 and No. 10).
Broughton knocked off No. 4 Holly Springs, 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 25-21. The Broughton attack was led by Kati Smith’s 23 kills, nine assists and six aces. Katja Ehlers added 12 kills and 11 digs.
Holly Springs (14-6) was riding a nine-game win streak.
Millbrook was a 3-1 winner over Garner, which had set a school record with 23 wins.
The third round 4A East pairings have Millbrook at Cap Eight champion Wakefield, and Broughton, the Cap Eight runnerup, at Durham Riverside, Fayetteville Pine Forest at unbeaten Greenville Conley and Wilmington Hoggard at Greenville Rose.
In 3A, Chapel Hill, a 25-14, 25-15, 25-12 winner over Swansboro, is at Hampstead Topsail, Eastern Wayne is at Wilson Fike, Cedar Ridge is at Erwin Triton and Gibbons is at home against Mayodan McMichael.
In 2A, South Granville is at Elizabeth City Northeastern, Bunn at Southern Vance, Carrboro at Wheatmore and South Columbus at East Duplin.
In 1A, Perquimans is at Riverside Martin, Camden is at Princeton, Wallace-Rose Hill is at Raleigh Charter and Roxboro Community is at Durham Voyager.
Triton’s Ashley Gaines had 35 assists and three blocks and Barbara Goodwin had 15 kills in the second-round win over Central Davidson.
McMichael eliminated Corinth Holders (14-7) in three games. Corinth seniors Lindsay Alford and Cole Narron each had nine kills in the loss.
Tom Shanahan, J. Mike Blake and D. Clay Best contributed to this story