Corinth Holders’ volleyball team had hoped to take another step on Tuesday toward a second straight Two Rivers 3A Conference regular-season title.
Instead, it was visiting Triton that seized control at the top of the league, bolstered by a standout defensive performance in a 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-20) victory over the Pirates.
The victory moved the Hawks (13-4, 6-1) a game ahead of Corinth (11-6, 5-2) and Cleveland (11-6, 5-2) in the Two Rivers standings. All three teams had three league contests remaining.
Last year, Corinth Holders edged Triton and Cleveland by one game for the league’s regular-season title.
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“We had a pretty aggressive game plan coming in and I don’t feel like we executed it at all,” said Corinth Holders coach Charles Riley. “I tip my hat to their defense and the way they served against us. Some of it was because of the way they played and some of it was due to some unforced errors on our part. You combine that and they were making us scramble.”
Triton, a fourth-round playoff team from a year ago, secured significant early leads en route to taking both of the first two sets. The third set was a bit of a different story, the two teams trading leads several times before a 7-1 surge by Triton produced a 19-13 lead.
Corinth Holders rallied late in the set, scoring four straight points – including two from Ali Blanco from a block and a kill – to draw within 23-20, but Triton got the final two points, the last of those coming on a kill by Sophia Saltzman that concluded the contest.
While Corinth Holders certainly made more mistakes than usual, Triton’s defense was impressive. On at least a dozen occasions, the Hawks kept rallies alive when it appeared the Pirates had finished off the point.
“Everyday, at least an hour or more (we work on defense),” said Triton coach Wendy Gaines, whose squad completed a regular-season sweep of Corinth. “We know we aren’t very tall at the net, so we have to be able to dig up whatever they bring to us. It becomes habit-forming that they are going to go after that ball no matter what.”
After Corinth Holders scored four straight points to get within 9-7 in the second set, Triton scored seven straight points – three of those on aces by Leanna Parker – to take a 16-7 lead. Corinth Holders got no closer than six points the rest of the set as the Hawks built a 2-0 match lead before finishing things off a set later.
THEY SAID IT
“At times, we hustle as hard as we can at balls, and then other times it’s just not there,” said Corinth Holders senior Jamie Turner, assessing her team’s performance. “I really think from this game we can learn each other’s weaknesses and strengths and then in practice buckle down and pay more attention to what we are doing with the little details, that we might not think matter that much in practice but when playing against a team like Triton those details mean the most.”
THREE TO KNOW
Taylor Gainey, Triton: The Hawks spread the wealth for the most part when it came to garnering offense, but Gainey was their most consistent point-getter when it came to finishing off points. She was particularly strong in the early going, posting two kills and a block to help stake Triton to a 10-3 lead in the first set.
Leanna Parker, Triton: One of several strong servers, Parker had three aces and consistently kept Corinth defenders on their heels with well-placed serves.
Jamie Turner, Corinth Holders: The senior had a strong effort in defeat, tallying a team-high eight kills.
BY THE NUMBERS
0: Number of times Corinth Holders held a lead in either of the first two sets.
7: Times that Triton scored four or more consecutive points during the match.
Corinth Holders hits the road for a pair of matches, Thursday at Western Harnett and Oct. 11 at South Johnston before closing with a home match against Cleveland on Oct. 13. Triton hosts South Johnston on Thursday.