The South Granville and Franklinton volleyball teams each opened up their seasons with defeats.
Neither wanted to begin Northern Carolina 2A Conference play in the same fashion on Thursday night.
In the end, the defending league and N.C. High School Athletic Association state champion Vikings prevailed, taking a 18-25, 25-12, 25- 16, 25-13 victory on the Red Rams’ home court.
“We wanted to come out and get the win to open conference,” South Granville senior middle hitter Jenna Pitzer said. “It was pretty important. We wanted to show that we are still on top and we’re not going to let down.”
South Granville exited at 2-1 (1-0), while Franklinton dropped to 0-2 (0-1).
South Granville knew its hitters coming back from the state championship team were solid. However, finding a replacement for the graduated Annie Preddy is tough.
In the first set, the Vikings managed just four kills as they were outplayed at the net by the blocking of Franklinton’s Kimmee Vernelson and Amari Champion.
However, buoyed by a second-set performance of eight assists by junior Rebecca Brown and a third-set, five-assist effort by sophomore Emily Wright, South Granville righted its ship.
“Annie was the best setter in the state,” South Granville head coach Christy Fitzgerald said. “And we’ve got two young setters trying to replace her, and right now it’s trial and error. They are both capable of great things, it’s just a matter of figuring out our hitters – and they are all killers who hit in very different ways.”
Franklinton head coach Crystal Barnes knew her team was facing a huge challenge in its first home game of the season.
“That team was runner-up two years ago and state champs last year,” she said. “Our goal today was to go out and compete with them to the best of our ability, win a set and see what else we could do.”
They got there with excellent blocking.
However, after some adjustments by South Granville, those went away.
“They did a lot of hitting around our first blocks,” she said. “And their second attempts were very good. They came back very strong.”
BY THE NUMBERS
10: Consecutive victories by South Granville over Franklinton. In that time, the Vikings have won 30 sets and lost just five sets total.
2: New winning streak for the Vikings, who had a 26-match run ended in their season opener on Aug. 18 by Person (25-19, 25-22, 25-17). Person was also one of three teams to beat SG in 2015 (Heritage and Carrboro) during a 30-3 season.
27: Straight conference victories for South Granville. The last loss was on Aug. 28, 2014 against N.C. School of Science and Math.
In the third set, Franklinton’s Denise Burk served to the Vikings hard. After both teams passed it over the net, a weak return by the Red Rams set up Pitzer for a huge first-hit spike that was part of an 8-1 spurt that separated the squads after being tied 11-all.