What Triton’s volleyball team lacks in towering intimidation at the net, the Hawks make up for with frustrating defense.
In short – pardon the pun – Triton covered the court with speed and footwork to beat J.F. Webb 3-0 Thursday night in an N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A second-round match in the Hawks’ newly-renovated gym.
They dug numerous tough balls, passed efficiently and recorded enough points off kills and blocks to sweep the Warriors 25-18, 25-14 and 25-22.
“My hat is off to them for some of the great balls we hit that they dug,” said Webb Ccach Ellis Crews said. “It was kind of shocking to my kids to see a team play that well.”
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Second-seeded Triton, the Two Rivers 3A Conference champion, advanced to Saturday’s third round with an 18-4 season record. Webb, the No. 10 seed that tied for second in the Big 8, finished with a 13-9 record.
The Hawks’ front-line measures 5-foot-6 senior outside hitter Taylor Gainey, 5-6 senior outside hitter Katelyn Stephens and the big girl in the middle, 5-7 sophomore Ella Layn.
But all three girls play bigger than their height, thanks to the skill of 5-5 senior setter Leanna Parker’s ability to get them the ball in prime position.
“We’ve never had any height,” Parker said. “The five seniors on this team have been playing together since sixth grade, so we’ve always worked on defense and passing. But even though our front line is short, they hit well.”
Gainey led the Hawks with eight kills. Parker also sneaks in points with sudden re-directed shots instead of setting one of her hitters, but there is no mistaking defense is this team’s calling card.
“Our defense the best thing we have,” Parker said. “We fly around and get every ball up. We say ‘No dropped balls’ -- that’s our motto.”
Crews praised his team for a strong season despite running into Triton on a hot night.
“We had a great season,” he said. “This was one my best teams. I thought we had enough talent to go deep in the playoffs, but to finish (tied) for second in our conference was a great season. Our conference matches were battles.”
Senior Megan Radford led the Warriors with 15 kills and senior Harper Pruitt added 15 assists.
OUT OF BOUNDS
Triton’s renovated gym was open for play for the first time this year in the Wednesday and Thursday playoff matches, but the Hawks still await parts to operate the scoreboard.
That led to confusion and Triton working overtime to score 26 points in the second game, officially a 25-14 win.
With regular-season matches played at nearby Coats-Erwin Middle School, an untested stat crew at the high school gym’s scorer’s table failed to record Triton’s points in the second and third games.
In the second game, Triton took a 14-7 lead, but the point wasn’t recorded. It took another point that should have been the 15th before Triton was credited with a 14th point.
In the third game, Triton took a 4-0 lead, but the stat crew only credited a 3-0 lead at the table. After Webb scored and then Triton scored, this time the match officials caught the mistake. They stopped the match and corrected the score to 5-1 instead of 4-1.