West Johnston got its power at the net from sophomores Kelsey Ellis and Abby Barbour and its spark from junior libero Nicole on Tuesday, rolling to a four-set volleyball victory that gave the Wildcats a regular-season sweep of the Trojans.
“It was a big win for us,” West Johnston coach Susan Bryant said. “To win twice against them in a season is really good. We’re proud of them.”
Ellis had a match-high 14 kills for the Wildcats and Barbour had nine kills, forming a potent 1-2 punch at the net. Ellis and Barbour also had a pair of service aces apiece.
Ellis had her kills in bunches, and they seemed to come at pivotal times for the Wildcats (5-9, 4-5 Greater Neuse River 4A).
In the opening set, she had a pair of kills as the Wildcats pulled away from an 11-11 tie to score five straight points. She added a kill for a 22-17 West Johnston lead, then produced a service ace and served out the match as the Wildcats won 25-17.
In the second set, Ellis had three kills in a 6-0 Wildcats run that gave West a 22-16 lead. Elllis added another kill for the final point as the Wildcats won 25-18.
“It kind of just worked out that way,” Ellis said of her scoring crucial points for the Wildcats. “I think (my teammates) like that I have a positive attitude.”
Garner (2-14, 2-7) took the third set 25-19, getting strong play at the net from freshman Shaylynn Hall (12 kills and three blocks for the match). Hall had five kills and a block in the third set.
West Johnston won the fourth set 25-23 to close out the match, with Ellis getting the final two points on kills.
“We have a young team,” Bryant said. “I think we have a lot of potential in the next two years.
“This team has come on strong (from the beginning of the year),” Bryant said. “We are getting there.”
Lonesky, at 4 feet 10 the smallest player on the West Johnston roster, is nonetheless a big part of the Wildcats’ success. Lonesky hit the floor repeatedly to dig out shots and ran wide of the court several times to keep the ball in play for the Wildcats.
“She’s little, but she’s tough,” Bryant said.
Junior Brooke Applequist added five kills for the Wildcats and nine West players recorded kills.
Garner, which has won five straight Greater Neuse River regular-season championships and four straight tournament titles, compiled a 60-match win streak in the conference before it was snapped by Clayton last season.
This season, the Trojans are battling inexperience and injuries. But coach Lance Boyette says the Trojans are improving.
“We’re still a young team,” Boyette said. “We have four seniors, but two of them are hurt. I’m playing two freshmen and two sophomores a lot. We’re progressively getting better. It doesn’t show in the win column, but I think we are getting better.
“I’ve got a great group of girls. They are all positive, they all have great attitudes. You can’t ask for anything better when you are 2 and whatever. It’s exciting to see when the freshmen and sophomores make great plays. It’s a work in progress.”