Cleveland has been unbeaten against Johnston county rival Clayton ever since Shelley Johnston took over as the Rams’ volleyball coach.
And that fact was never in much danger on Tuesday.
Cleveland never trailed in the first set and held leads of at least seven points in all three, rolling to a 25-17, 25-16, 25-21 win on the Comets’ home court.
The victory improved the Rams, members of the Two Rivers 3A who have won the last three matches in the series, to 2-0 on the season. Clayton, a member of the Greater Neuse River 4A, fell to 0-2.
The rematch will be on Aug. 27 at Cleveland.
The back-to-back service aces from Jenna Myer to give Cleveland a 16-13 lead and breathing room in the second set.
They said it: “We lost six seniors and had two others who weren’t able to play this year, so I have only three girls on the team who were on the team last season,” coach Johnston said. “We’re rebuilding defensively, and we had to make sophomores into defenders. (Junior) Bri Gross and (sophomore) Celeste Whiteaker are really doing a good job.”
Said Cleveland coach Marlon Lee, “We just need to be more consistent in what we do. We have to be better at our passing and making the simple plays. We’ve played South Johnston and Cleveland, and they’re at the level of competition we’re going to see in our conference. When you make mistakes good teams make you pay.”
Three who mattered
Jenna Myer, Cleveland: The freshman not only had the back-to-back aces but also recorded 14 assists.
“I think we’re playing good together as a team,” Myer said. “We knew Clayton would be a challenge and we had to be ready for them.”
Alexis Ivey, Cleveland: The senior had a block to end the first set, later adding five service points - the last giving the Rams a 21-18 lead - in the third.
Brianna Davis, Clayton: The junior had back-to-back aces in the first set after the Rams had gone up 20-10.
By the numbers
4: The number of consecutive points on which a team lost serve in the second game before the Rams got the final point.
6: The longest serving streak by an individual, as the Rams’ Walli Driggers improved the lead from 11-7 to 17-7 in the first set.
8: The number of times the score was tied in the second set, the last time at 13-13.
Clayton, which also finished third in its conference, has two more non-conference matches before opening GNRC play on Sept. 1 against East Wake.
“We played strong and had good blocking,” Clayton sophomore Brittany Ochsner said. “We just need to be more consistent. Today was a good competition, but we need to keep getting better.”
Cleveland, which finished third in its conference last season, will play seven more non-conference matches before opening Two Rivers play on Sept. 15 at Triton.
“The team is coming together really well,” Cleveland sophomore Taylor Hein said. “We’re definitely running our free ball plays better, and communicating a lot better throughout the game.”