East Chapel Hill wanted to be a good host of its first Wildcats Invitational Volleyball Tournament, but not this good. The Wildcats lost all four matches.
“You don’t want to go 0-4 when you host a tournament,” coach Michelle Wood. “But our last set in the last match (against Riverside) was our best effort. We got better as the tournament went on.”
East Chapel Hill took over hosting this annual early-season tournament after Chapel Hill decided to drop it following the retirement of coach Sherry Norris, the all-time leader in coaching wins in N.C. volleyball.
Despite their record, Wood believes it will pay off down the road.
“That’s why we do this. If you don’t push yourself, you don’t know how good you are. We thought we were good, but we were playing against each other. This was some good competition.”
Riverside’s volleyball team is 101-25 over the past five seasons, notes coach Michael Hodge. So the Pirates’ 1-3 start is not typical of a team that collects PAC-6 trophies like candy.
Riverside won one match at the invitational, and that was over East in the seventh-place game.
The Pirates lost five starters off last year’s 16-7 club that finished second to East Chapel Hill in the PAC-6 and return just three, including top senior Rachel Kallianos. Hodge said this season would be one of his toughest.
“I’m going to earn my money,” he said.
Hodge said the tournament was a chance to push his team against some of the top teams. And to see some top teams from outside the Triangle, like Carrboro, Northwest Guilford and Southern Alamance, all of which gave Riverside some trouble.
Socastee High School of Myrtle Beach, S.C., took the local veterans to school and won the invitational with a 4-0 record, downing NW Gulford (3-1) in the finals.
“Socastee is a really good team,” Hodge said. “They have skilled players at every position and flow well on the court. Carrboro is also a team to watch. They play very well together.”
After losing the first set of the championship match, Socastee won the next two before the Vikings rallied in the fourth. The Braves jumped to a 6-12 lead in the fifth and rolled to a 15-9 win that clinched the WIT title.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but we played some good competition,” Socastee coach Jessica Holloway said. “All of our games were tough, and we’re happy to come away with the win.”
Chapel Hill went 2-2 and defefeated South Alamance (3-1) for fifth place.
Carrboro (3-1) defeated Cedar Ridge (2-2) for third place.
Rachel Kallianos, Riverside
Grayson Walter, East Chapel Hill
Katie Huge, Chapel Hill
Nicole Byrd, Southern Alamance
Grace Maggiore, Carrboro
Elizabeth Ollila, Carrboro
Kaitlyn Grube, NW Guilford
Morgan Stokley, NW Guilford
Mary Guest, Socastee
Dale Rogers, Socastee (MVP)
Asha Barnes, Cedar Ridge