Cary News: Sports

Middle Creek volleyball upsets Green Hope

The game of volleyball can be a simple one at times: Don’t let the ball touch the ground on your side of the net and make sure it does on theirs.

On Thursday, Middle Creek simply didn’t let Green Hope put the ball down.

By digging out almost everything thrown at them, the Mustangs handed Green Hope a 3-1 loss (24-26, 25-20, 25-13, 25-19), which is just the Falcons’ second in Southwest Wake Athletic Conference play.

“That’s probably the best game for our defense that we’ve had,” Middle Creek senior Katie McCullough said. “We were making some awesome ups and even if it was a bad up, somebody was there to make an even better up to help them out.”

“Now we know, if we play together as a team, we can beat anyone we come up against.”

McCullough was the focal point of last year’s team, but this year’s Mustangs (8-4, 5-4) have been strengthened with a more diverse attack.

McCullough had 11 kills followed by Sam Smith’s 10 and Emily Durham’s nine (to go with five aces). Sydney Sozio had six kills, two blocks and three aces.

“We’ve got a lot of strong hitters that have improved a lot in the offseason,” Mustangs coach Adrienne Core said. “Keeping it as different as we can, I think, has been a plus.”

Home court advantage usually doesn’t come up much in volleyball, but Middle Creek is a perfect 6-0 in its home gym.

“For some reason they play so well in their home gym,” Core said.

Green Hope (11-4, 7-2) coach Karl Redelfs saw his team’s lead on the rest of the SWAC drop to just one game over second-place Apex. He knows his team will have to be on its toes in the coming weeks.

“I said ‘What you can take from this is anyone’s beatable. No matter what. Everybody has bad nights. It just depends on who’s on,’ ” Redelfs said.

The key, he said, was serve receiving.

“When we did get a good serve receive pass, we scored. When we didn’t, it was hectic,” Redelfs said.

Green Hope’s Margot Ruffieux had 11 kills while Allison O’Connor had nine to go with five blocks. East Carolina recruit Haley Bidgood had seven kills.