In the parity-filled volleyball standings of the Greater Neuse River Conference, a single victory can catapult a team out of last place – and back into the mix for a potential berth in the 4A state playoffs.
Clayton experienced that fate Tuesday as the Comets finished off the first half of their GNC schedule with a 25-15, 27-25, 25-14 sweep at league foe Southeast Raleigh.
Alone in the bottom spot in the GNRC coming in, Clayton (3-9, 2-5) is now trending upward and currently tied with two other schools for the sixth position in the eight-team league, including Southeast (2-9, 2-4).
“The season still has a long way to go,’’ said Clayton coach Marlon Lee. “Hopefully, we can become more consistent with what we do. It’s been a long last few weeks, but we’ve been in some matches. This is a resilient group that just needs to come out early, get some momentum and stick with the game plan.’’
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The Comets followed that formula Tuesday by easily winning the first set. Clayton rallied for a triumph in the second set before rolling out early in the finale – and never looking back.
After a convincing first-set decision, the Comets fell behind 16-8 in the second set before clawing back. After the Bulldogs staved off two set points, Clayton regained serve and finished off the set thanks to a kill from Bailey Perdue off Cayli Sutton’s serve.The Comets opened the third set with 11 consecutive points and were never threatened the rest of the way.
They said it
“We were a little flat today,’’ said Southeast Raleigh coach Tammy Lackey. “We had a match (Monday), we are in the middle of midterms and we were missing two key players. That took its toll on us. We have a few things to work out, and I think we will pick it up in the second half of the season.’’
Three who mattered
Cayli Sutton, Clayton: The Comets’ setter served out the second set and opened the third set with 10 straight points, including a pair of aces. Sutton finished with four aces.
Bailey Perdue, Clayton: Perdue closed with a team-high five kills – none bigger than the clinching blast in the second set. She also contributed two kills during the Comets’ early stretch in the third set.
Tyra Burt, Southeast Raleigh: An electric outside hitter, Burt topped all players with nine kills, eight of which came during the second set. Thanks to Burt’s heroics, the Bulldogs seemed in control of the set,only to be foiled by Clayton’s comeback.
Clayton’s strong defense, from the net to the back row, kept Southeast Raleigh from developing an offensive rhythm. The Comets’ backliners dug up several kill attempts, and middle hitter Kayla Lewis came through with four blocks. Clayton’s defensive work limited the Bulldogs to just one kill in the opening set. The Comets were also quick starters in both the first and third sets, and didn’t trail in either set.