For the second time in nine days, the East Wake volleyball team emerged from Knightdale with a decisive win over its rival.
On this occasion, the Warriors also ended the Knights’ season.
East Wake, seeded 26th, surged to big leads in all three sets and cruised to a 25-14, 25-17, 25-21 road victory over 7th-seeded Knightdale in the first round of the NCHSAA 4A volleyball playoffs.
With the two teams off their routine due to a 10 a.m. Saturday start time, and missing key players – including Greater Neuse River Conference Player of the Year Delaney Vandergrift, a senior for Knightdale – the match was sluggish on both sides early on. But the dominance of East Wake standout Angel Rizor proved to be the difference as the morning wore on.
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East Wake coach Keauna Vinson credited Rizor for her team’s success near the net.
“Whenever she was on the front row, we could get a lot of kills because we could get it past them,” Vinson said. Rizor led all players in the match with 11 kills and two aces.
With East Wake leading 6-4 in the first set, the first of seven kills from Kianna Wynn jump-started a 14-3 run to stretch the advantage to 20-7. An ace from Lauren West eventually won the set for the Warriors.
Knightdale rushed out to a 6-2 lead in the second set, but another controlling stretch for East Wake – a 12-1 run – swung the momentum. The points were split evenly from then out as the Warriors put the Knights in check.
The third set followed a similar pattern as the first two. A 10-8 Knightdale advantage was shattered by an 11-1 East Wake run, and although the Knights rallied back to cut the lead to 22-20 for a moment, a Wynn kill finished off the sweep for the Warriors.
Knightdale coach Anna Gay, who finished second in GNRC Coach of the Year voting, felt that her inexperienced lineup wasn’t prepared to overcome the sizable deficits they faced.
“We’ve been such a mental team this season, so getting down in the beginning, it’s always hard for us to dig out of the hole,” she said. “It was just a situation where we couldn’t bounce back in time.”
Heaven Jarrell led the Knights with seven kills, while Nia Singletary added five kills and an ace. Knightdale won the conference regular season title, but lost three of its last four – including twice to East Wake.
“On a whole, I’m very proud of them,” Gay said.
With the win, East Wake advanced to play No. 23 Heritage in Wake Forest in the second round, played Tuesday. The Warriors entered the game having won seven of their last nine.
“Missing a couple of our players and knowing that we still have the fight in us to get past the first round, that should carry us a long way,” Vinson said. “We still have to step up our game because we do play some tough teams from here on out.”