There was no trophy on hand, but the sounds of Apex and Green Hope volleyball players diving on the floor with little regard for their own safety left no doubt: Thursday night’s gamewas for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference championship.
With Green Hope’s 3-1 (25-14, 25-17, 22-25, 25-23) win, the Falcons have clinched the SWAC title with one game left in the regular season. The team has won 10 of its last 11.
“It feels amazing,” said Green Hope libero Moriah Tavana. “We’ve worked so hard – starting out in the season not doing well and then coming together as a team and working together.
“This game, we just came together like puzzle pieces.”
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Apex has won an outright or co-conference title in each of the last six seasons, and seven of the last eight. Green Hope also earned a co-title during that stretch. But the Falcons never had won an outright conference title before, instead sharing it in 2011 and 2005 with a conference tournament title in 2004.
Green Hope (15-4, 11-2) controlled the first game and roared through game two, using a 19-3 run. In game three, Apex (13-7, 9-4) almost doubled their kills from the first two games when the Green Hope block was too strong.
The Falcons finished with 14 blocks.
“They made my job so much easier,” Tavana said.
“I just told them that (Apex) was a pin-hitting team. And our blockers just did a good job of getting out there,” Green Hope coach Karl Redelfs said.
Green Hope, which led all through the fourth and final game, but never by more than five points, was led by 14 kills from senior Haley Bidgood. She used the element of surprise often – going for the kill after going up for a set.
“It’s kind of instinct and looking quickly to see if the middle is there,” Bidgood said. “I try to use it without overdoing it because our team still needs to be effective with our hitters.”
Apex hopes to get outside hitter Abigail Veit back for playoffs. She has missed all but two weeks in the regular season. The Cougars were led on Thursday by Breanna Andrea’s eight kills.
“It was a tough game. Green Hope is really good... I think they’ll be a contender in states as well,” Apex coach Emily Whitsett said, adding about her team, “I don’t think we’ve peaked yet.”