In the championship game of its own Trojan Invitational Volleyball Tournament against Athens Drive, the South Johnston volleyball squad put together some impressive stretches of play to challenge their guests.
But, in the end, the 4A Jaguars were too consistent for the Trojans, taking the title 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 20-25 and 25-17).
Each of the four sets followed a similar script: South Johnston needing to rally from an early deficit.
But it was only in the third set that the Trojans, who scored seven of the set’s final nine points, came out on top.
“Overall, they were just more consistent than we were,” South Johnston coach Matthew Adams said of Athens Drive. “We made runs and they made runs, but over the course of the game you could tell that they were just making more consistent plays.”
Athens Drive, who earned the right to play for the title after surviving a five-set match against Garner earlier in the day, seemed to have an answer every time the Trojans made a charge.
“I thought they responded well,” Jaguars coach Jen Reeder said. “I think they came together as a team and played very well.”
After South Johnston rallied for eight consecutive points in the first set to draw even at 18, Athens Drive responded by winning seven of the next nine points to take the 1-0 lead.
Down five points early in the second set, the Trojans, behind the solid passing of Kathryn Lee and the aggressive play supplied by Alexis Massengill, went on an 11-2 rally to take a 14-10 lead.
The Jaguars responded again, however, thanks to the inspired play of tournament MVP Rachel Kinsey who provided Athens Drive with five kills and two key blocks at the net during a 15-2 run to close out the second set.
South Johnston, who defeated another 4A squad in Harnett Central 3-0 in the first round of the tournament, displayed their heart yet again and took the third set 25-20 after falling behind early.
“We got down 2-0 and at the end of the second set, we were struggling,” said Adams of his team. “They had a big run when I didn’t know if we would come back at all; I’m proud of that.
“I think we can build on the fact that we didn’t give up and we kept fighting hard.”
Massengill, who finished the championship match with 18 kills and 30 digs, and Lee, who dished out 30 assists for the Trojans, were named to the all-tournament team.
In addition to Kinsey being named MVP, the Jaguars’ Ashley Collins and Kayla Madia were also included on the all-tournament team as were Garner’s Brooke Kamphuis and Harnett Central’s Kayla East.