There’s little doubt about it now.
West Johnston is back among the powers in Greater Neuse River 4A Conference volleyball.
The Wildcats again got the biggest victory in the career of energetic young rookie head coach Meredith Blake on Tuesday, shocking conference leader and defending champion Knightdale, 25-21, 25-9, 26-24.
The win improved the Wildcats to 7-5 overall and 5-2 in conference play following their fifth straight win, while the Knights dropped to 8-7 and 6-1.
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Knightdale had won four straight in the series, including a pair of 3-0 victories last season.
“The girls knew this was a win we had to have because Knightdale is in first place,” Blake said. “We worked together as a team and were aggressive. We beat them 25-9 in a set and that was great for us. I think we were more consistent than we’ve been all season. We missed a few hits and a few serves and a few passes, but all in all we did just about everything well.”
Veteran coach Ross Fields, in his first season at Knightdale, said he was disappointed with the result.
“What I would have to say isn’t really printable,” Fields said.
With the Wildcats leading 2-1 in the second set, Tatianna Thompson served for seven straight points to lead to the runaway score in that game.
They said it
“I felt like my serves were really good today,” said junior hitter Thompson. “I had a lot of support from my team. I just wanted to get a run and get it going. We worked well all around, talked well and communicated the whole match. We really came out with a good mindset.”
Three who mattered
Tatianna Thompson, West Johnston: The junior hitter was successful on 13 of 15 serves, had the seven-point run and six aces.
Brooke Applequist, West Johnston: Was 19-for-23 on serve/receive tries to lead a 90 percent ratio on the back line.
Abby Barbour, West Johnston: The junior hitter had 10 kills and four blocks.
“This is the biggest win we’ve had,” Barbour said. “We wanted to win so bad. Our energy level was great and the crowd was awesome. If we play as well as we did tonight we can beat anyone in the conference.”
By the numbers
4: Blocks by West’s Abby Barbour and Knightdale’s Deiara Frye.
6: Aces by West’s Thompson and kills by the Knights’ Heaven Jarrell.
“West Johnston just played very well today,” the senior Jarrell said. “We kept fighting to the final point. But a lack of communication got us in trouble early in the match.”
7: Kills by Knightdale’s Frye and Nia Singletary.
10: Kills by Barbour.
19: Successful serve/receive on 23 attempts from the Wildcats’ Brooke Applequist.
The rematch is Oct. 15 in Knightdale.
West visits Rolesville, which topped the Wildcats in their earlier meeting, on Thursday and then hosts county rival South Johnston on Monday.
Knightdale visits Harnett Central on Thursday before hosting Rolesville on Tuesday.