Riverside volleyball team is 101-25 over the past five seasons, observes head coach Michael Hodge. So, the Pirates’ 1-3 start is not typical of a team that collects PAC-6 trophies like candy.
Riverside won one match at last weekend’s 2015 Wildcat Invitational Volleyball Tournament at East Chapel Hill, and that was over the host school on the final day.
The Pirates lost five starters from last year’s 16-7 team and return just three, including top senior Rachel Kallianos.
Hodge said this season would be one of his toughest.
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“I’m going to earn my money,” he said, noting last year’s Pirates were runners-up in the PAC-6 to East Chapel Hill. “They lost some games they should have won and won some games they should have lost. But they will be much better as the season goes on.”
Hodge said the tournament was a chance to stretch his team’s abilities against some top visitors they normally wouldn’t encounter, like Carrboro, Northwest Guilford and Southern Alamance, all of which gave Riverside some trouble.
Socastee High School of Myrtle Beach, S.C., won the invitational.
“Socastee is a really good team,” he said. “They have skilled players at every position and flow well on the court. Carrboro is also a team to watch. They play very well together.”
East Chapel Hill took over hosting this annual early-season tournament after Chapel Hill decided to drop it following the retirement of coach Sherry Norris, the all-time leader in coaching wins in N.C. volleyball.
Wildcats coach Michelle Wood was somewhat chagrined at her team’s two-day record.
“You don’t want to go 0-4 when you host a tournament,” she said. “But our last set in the last match (against Riverside) was our best effort. We got better as the tournament went on.”
Despite their record, Wood believes it will pay off down the road.
“That’s why we do this. If you don’t push yourself, you don’t know how good you are. We thought we were good, but we were playing against each other. This was some good competition.”
Playing in its first Wildcat Invitational Volleyball Tournament, Socastee took the local veterans to school. The Braves went undefeated (4-0) on their way to the title and upended Northwest Guilford in a five-set thriller in Saturday night’s championship match.
After losing the first set 24-26, Socastee won the next two 25-21 and 25-16. Northwest’s Vikings rallied in the fourth for a 25-16 win that sent the match to a fifth set before running out of steam. Socastee won the decisive set 15-9.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but we played some good competition,” Socastee coach Jessica Holloway said. “All of our games were tough, and we’re happy to come away with the win.”
Rachel Kallianos, Riverside
Grayson Walter, East Chapel Hill
Katie Huge, Chapel Hill
Nicole Byrd, Southern Alamance
Grace Maggiore, Carrboro
Elizabeth Ollila, Carrboro
Kaitlyn Grube, NW Guilford
Morgan Stokley, NW Guilford
Mary Guest, Socastee
Asha Barnes, Cedar Ridge
MVP: Dale Rogers, Socastee