DURHAM — Another Durham Riverside volleyball match. Another five-setter.
After rallying to win in the fifth set of their previous two state playoff matches, the Pirates couldn’t overcome a Wakefield team that matched their power hitting. The Wolverines advance to their first state semifinal in school history after a thrilling five set victory (25-12, 24-26, 22-25, 25-21, 15-12) Saturday night.
Not many teams can match the Pirates in speed and power, but the Wolverines – with six players 6-feet and over – are just as big and agile. Wakefield coach Cynthia Terrell, sobbing uncontrollably, could barely get the words out.
“We have come so close in the past, and we wanted it so bad,” she said. “They worked so hard, and we knew we had to bring our A-game for a team like Riverside.”
Senior co-captain Maya Muldrow led the Wolverines with 19 kills but none more important than her last one in the final set that gave Wakefield the win.
Wakefield (23-2) never trailed in the first set and overwhelmed Riverside to take a 1-0 lead.
But the Pirates (25-2) showed why they had won 26 consecutive matches by adjusting their defense and attacking the net. Riverside evened the game with a hard-fought second set that saw five lead changes during the final six points.
The Pirates scored the first five points in the third set but the Wolverines rallied to take their first lead 20-18 behind the serve of junior right setter Amaya Rousseau. But Riverside’s Naomi Van Horn led the Pirates right back with five straight points and the eventual win.
Wakefield tied the match at two-all behind the net defense of Rousseau, senior co-captain Darian Mack and Muldrow to set up the fifth set showdown.
The Wolverines jumped out 3-0 and lost the lead only once before outdueling Riverside down the stretch.
“We thought we could match up well with them after looking at scouting reports,” Terrell said. “No other Wakefield team has gotten this far and it’s just a blessing.”
Mack added 18 kills, and Ashley Assa had 42 assists.