East Wake Academy drew a path in the N.C. High School Athletic Association volleyball playoffs that wouldn’t bode well for most 1A teams this year.
Top-seeded and unbeaten Riverside did what it has all season long to dismiss the No. 8-seeded Eagles in second-round action in Williamston on Thursday by a 3-0 count, 25-13, 25-16, 25-21.
“They were tall up front, very athletic, and they had a lot of really good saves,” East Wake Academy coach Kenly Simmons said of the Knights. “They were going to be a tough team to beat.”
Riverside improved to 23-0 on the season and advanced a third-round, weekend meeting with East No. 4 seed Whiteville, while EWA’s season came to an end with a 14-10 mark.
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But the Eagles have good reason not to look back on their playoff run and harp on the negatives of the final match.
East Wake Academy’s 3-0 win at home over No. 9 Southside in the first round Wednesday was both the first playoff win for the EWA volleyball program and the second playoff win in any sport in the public charter school’s history.
“It’s been our first goal to make the playoffs, and we have done that the past two years, so it was really special for some of our seniors to make playoffs a couple years and then make it to the second round this year,” Simmons said. “And this was our first year to host a playoff match, and special to get the win at home.”
Junior captain Antonia Kearney served the first 15 points of the first game against the Seahawks and finished with 17 aces in the match, which the Eagles won 25-6, 25-8, 25-12. Senior middle hitter McKenzie Alford finished with nine kills, three blocks and 10 digs.
Alford is one of five seniors on the team, along with right-side hitter and setter Sha’kayla Ellis, defensive specialist Kiara Mangum, and outside hitters Shayla Ebert and Amanda Robinson.
“This has definitely been a really special group for me,” Simmons said. “We had some crazy injuries, but through all of it we really came together.”