Triton’s volleyball team is still the top dog in the Two Rivers 3A conference.
The Hawks, winners of 14 straight conference titles, withstood determined South Johnston on Tuesday night, rallying to win 3-2 after falling behind 2-1.
It was the fourth straight five-set victory for the Hawks (9-3, 3-0).
“Somewhere they dig down deep and do whatever it takes,” Triton coach Wendy Gaines said. “That is what we kept saying, “Do whatever it takes.’ … We may not have the height advantage at the net, but I think they have more heart and they have a lot of hustle. They want to win.”
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South Johnston had won eight straight matches and came into the battle for first place with a 12-1 record, 2-0 in the conference.
Triton took the first set 25-15, then South Johnston won the next two sets 25-19 and 25-23.
Triton, which has no seniors on its roster, responded with a 25-19 victory to send it to a fifth set. The Hawks jumped to a 5-0 lead and won 15-5, with junior Taylor Gainey scoring seven points.
The fourth set The Hawks regrouped with their backs to the wall and won to push the match to a fifth set. For the Hawks, who have won five of their last six matches in five sets, that is familiar territory – and winning territory.
“In the fourth and fifth set, we were more on the defensive ... than we were in the second and third,” South Johnston coach Matthew Adams said. “We just came out flat in the fifth set. We couldn’t get any rhythm going.”
They said it
“Coach Gaines just asked us about (playing so many five-set matches) and we just replied that we like to play volleyball,” Gainey said. “I don’t know. Once we get it going, we are good from there on. I guess it takes a while. … I was sure we were going to come back.”
3 who mattered
Gainey She finished with a match-high 19 kills and caught fire at the end. In the fifth set, she dominated the action.
Emma Blackman South Johnston’s 5-foot-11 senior captain was a force at the net with a team-high 18 kills.
Annie Tyndall The Hawks’ libero was a standout on defense, hitting the floor for saves and making solid returns of serve to set up the offense.
By the numbers
24 – combined kills for South Johhston’s Makaylah Tart (13) and Lily Allen (11).
10 – kills for Triton’s Kate Mangum, a junior who complemented Gainey’s strong play at the net.