Veteran Clayton coach Marlon Lee said there’s no better way to start a volleyball season than beating three Johnston County rivals in as many days.
And with their victory at Smithfield-Selma on Thursday, the Comets were able to do just that.
Using easy dominance at the net the Comets were in control the first two sets, rolling to a 25-16, 25-9, 25-15 victory at the Spartans’ gym.
The result dropped SSS to 2-1 on the season.
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“We’re just trying to get better in all aspects,” said Lee, whose team led all the way following Maya Gray’s serve that made it 14-13 in the first set. “We know we’ve got a strength at the net. We tried some different lineups and fine-tuned some things.
“It was a good all-around match for us and everybody stepped up.”
First-set serving from Comet senior Avery Moser, who was successful on five straight points to increase the lead from 16-14 to 21-14.
THEY SAID IT
“I think we’re playing smarter,” said second-year SSS coach Deanna Morris, whose team went 6-18 in her first season at the helm. “When you’re up against a team that has the talent and the height Clayton has it’s tough. We got our block going a little bit better in the third set. I’m proud of our girls that we were able to adjust and play better in that one.”
THREE TO WATCH
Maya Gray, Clayton: The freshman had three kills and a block out of the Comets’ first 12 points to help set the tone at the net.
“We played pretty well,” said Gray, who has been playing volleyball for six years. “We know we’re going to be good at the net. We just have to keep getting better and better going around the blocks.”
Ally Felix, Clayton: The junior had two kills in the Comets’ first seven points, and ended the match with her final kill of the evening.
Mariah Godwin, Smithfield-Selma: The senior had a combined nine kills and blocks to lead the Spartans.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: Aces from SSS senior Daley Baker on her first two serves.
4: Times the score was tied.
4: Blocks by Godwin.
5: Kills by Godwin.
6: Kills by Gray.
7: Straight points served by Moser in the third set.
8: Kills by Felix.
Clayton visits Cleveland on Monday and North Johnston on Wednesday before hosting the Spartans in a rematch on Thursday. The Comets’ first seven matches are against county rivals.
“We’ve got some really good young players and good team chemistry,” Clayton senior Bailey Purdue said. “We’ve got a lot of veteran players who have known each other for a few years. And our new freshman (Gray) makes us even stronger at the net.”
SSS will visit Southern Nash — a team the Spartans beat in four sets to open the season — on Monday and host Northern Nash on Wednesday.
“We hung with Clayton better than we have in the past,” SSS senior Summer Daniels said. “I thought we put up a good fight. I think we’re better everywhere than we were last season. Our setting, our hitting and our passing are all much better.”