Cardinal Gibbons swept past Cedar Ridge 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-10) to advance to the East Regional round of the 3A North Carolina High School Athletic Association volleyball playoffs.
The Crusaders (25-0) displayed a balanced effort in defeating their Big Eight Conference rivals for the third time on the season and moved one step closer to claiming a state title for the sixth consecutive year.
Briley Brind’Amour led the Crusaders with 15 kills but had plenty of help from her teammates as Emma Longley added eight and the trio of Alex Davis, Tori Dozier and Christine Merdes each contributed five.
The Red Wolves (20-7) took a 9-6 lead in the second set but Cardinal Gibbons, who has only lost one set all season, didn’t get frazzled and responded with a 7-0 run to take control of both the set and the match.
“The second set, when they got up a little bit, we didn’t panic and we didn’t try to do something we weren’t used to doing,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Logan Barbour said. “We just stayed with the program and did what got us here.”
Carmen Sigmon put together a solid defensive game with 13 digs which allowed Meghan Wilkinson (19 assists) and Dozier (16 assists) to set up the Crusaders’ big hitters.
Davis and Dozier especially helped to slow Cedar Ridge’s one-two punch of Courtney Eckmann and Chelsea Hill as the duo combined for 16 blocks.
For the Red Wolves, there was no shame in falling to the No. 2-seeded Crusaders.
“I think we played about as well as we could against them,” Cedar Ridge coach Charlie Oakley said. “They’re a great team; There’s a reason they never lose.”
Eckmann led Cedar Ridge with five kills, while Kylie Litaker and Cass Michal did their part to dig up as many balls as they could against the Crusaders’ relentless attack.