South Granville wasn’t the tallest 2A volleyball team in the state. It had just three seniors. But it did have the highest goal, and that was realized Saturday night.
The Vikings won the N.C. High School Athletic Association championship at the Raleigh Convention Center, defeating Wheatmore 3-2 (20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 15-12) to break through in the title game after being denied twice over the last two years, including last season.
They weren’t going to be denied.
“That (2014 title loss) fueled us for 12 months,” South Granville coach Christy Fitzgerald said. “This team can take a lot of punches and still end up on their feet. It’s going to take a lot to knock them to where they can’t come back.”
After taking a 2-1 lead in the match, Wheatmore (25-2), a powerful team from Randolph County, responded in the fourth. The Warriors ran away with the set as South Granville (30-3) struggled to get a good first pass, forcing a winner-take-all fifth set.
But as they had all this season, the Vikings had an answer. Wheatmore led 8-7 but South Granville pulled ahead 10-8. Wheatmore led 11-10 but the Vikings had the finishing kick, scoring four of the last five.
The Warriors’ superior size was apparent in the first set, but the Vikings mixed up the attack.
Jenna Pitzer, a junior, began to get hot at the net for 17 kills. Junior Megan Fuhr, who was named MVP, got in some backrow kills while also attacking near the poles for 10 kills. Sarah Dickerson also had 10 as setter Annie Preddy passed it around for 51 assists.
“You’ve just got to be smart,” Pitzer said. “I just hit around them.”
For Preddy, she joked “third time’s the charm” after being on the previous two runner-up teams. Mallary Brogden and Jaida Henderson are the team’s only other seniors.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Preddy said.
Wheatmore’s only other loss came to 4A runnerup Northwest Guilford.
South Granville has won three state championships in the calendar year – baseball, softball and volleyball. Like baseball, this was the school’s first title in the sport.