The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference’s three automatic state playoff berths are likely out of reach, so Holly Springs and Panther Creek were instead contending for an at-large berth in the state volleyball playoffs on Thursday.
But there was plenty of energy among Holly Springs’ players that the Golden Hawks used to defeat Panther Creek 3-1 in a home match. Holly Springs won 25-13, 18-25, 25-18, 25-18.
Senior Night, with the gym decorated in purple crepe paper, was one reason for the Golden Hawks’ surge.
“That felt amazing to win on Senior Night,” said senior setter Mackenzie Reaves, who contributed floor play, four aces and 11 kills. “We’ve had a tough season. We haven’t won as much as we should have with how hard we’ve worked this year. But in this game, we were playing together, and everyone was giving it their all.”
Reaves is one of the team’s two fourth-year seniors along with Jaclyn Brewington, who led the Golden Hawks with 14 kills.
The strong surge of energy also can be attributed to Holly Springs (9-11, 6-7 SWAC) seeking to avenge a five-game loss earlier to Panther Creek (7-9, 4-8) to remain in contention for an at-large state playoff berth.
“Panther Creek beat us by two points in the fifth game, and we were not going to let that happen again – especially on Senior Night,” Holly Springs coach Emily Rice said. “We came out strong, and I don’t think they were expecting that. They woke up in the second game with some adjustments, but we were able to figure them out.”
In the decisive fourth game, Reaves served an ace among five straight points for a 6-0 lead. With the Golden Hawks leading 6-1, Blakely Barker served two aces among seven consecutive points for a 14-2 lead. Barker finished the night with five aces.
After Panther Creek evened the match at a game apiece, the Catamounts dug holes of 9-0 in Game 3 and 10-0 in Game 4 before rallying.
“It was definitely disappointing,” Panther Creek coach Holly Fong said of her team’s slow starts. “I don’t feel our girls showed up to play. We had a long week with two games earlier, but regardless of excuses, we should have played better.”
Panther Creek played three matches in three days, losing to Apex in four and beating Athens Drive in four before traveling to Holly Springs.