RALEIGH — Wakefield had been good for years. The Wolverines had come close to the big match before, but realized its goal this year by making the state championship and winning the school’s first volleyball title.
Coach Cynthia Terrell said the group’s determination and dedication that set the tone for the season.
“We just knew if we worked hard we could get to where we are today, and it payed off,” she said.
The Wolverines topped Hough 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 25-22) Saturday in the NCHSAA 4A championship at Reynolds Coliseum, led by a tandem of high-powered seniors who wouldn’t be denied in their final year.
“It was our senior year, and we were so close each year,” said senior Darian Mack, who was named championship MVP. “In July we just said, ‘We want this state championship. We have a great team. It’s obtainable.”
The road to the state championship wasn’t easy. The Wolverines were taken to five sets by Apex and Durham Riverside during the state tournament, and entered Saturday’s match to face a Hough team that had dropped just one match this year.
Things were smooth sailing for Wakefield early on, as the Wolverines took 25-22 and 25-19 wins in the first two sets as Hough struggled to contain Wakefield junior Julia Forbes (16 kills), but winning the program’s first state championship wouldn’t be that easy.
Hough stormed back in the third set, leading by as many as eight points at one time to win, 25-20. Hough, which opened its doors in 2010, was also searching for its first state title. The teams sat knotted at 13 in the fourth set before Wakefield went on a 6-0 run. Hough countered, but Wakefield held on to finish the match in four with a 25-22 win.
Mack led the Wolverines with 20 kills – 10 in the decisive fourth set. Gabrielle Benda finished with 42 assists, Julia Forbes added 16 kills and Jordan Glass had 13 digs.
“This has been our goal, to be in the state chamoionships, since Day 1,” Benda said. “I think we knew what we had to do in this match, come out with a lot of intensity and stay focused throughout the match.”
Hough had come back from two sets down in the past, so coach Sandi Skidmore thought her team had an opportunity to fight back, but Wakefield was too strong.
“I think they were just a little better than us tonight. They had couple girls we couldn’t slow down, we tried our best but they were just a handful for us. They were just better.”