Garner Cleveland: Sports

Garner rolls; West Johnston grows

West Johnston's Brooke Applequist (2) sets up a teammate for a kill.
West Johnston's Brooke Applequist (2) sets up a teammate for a kill.

Very few high school teams are able to dominate their conference the way Garner volleyball has controlled the Greater Neuse River 4A in recent years.

And the way things are going so far this season, there has been no break in the pattern.

The Trojans won their 53rd straight match against GNRC opposition on Thursday, rolling to a 25-6, 25-13, 25-21 victory over rebuilding West Johnston.

The win improved Garner to 6-1, 2-0 in conference play, while West Johnston fell to 1-6 and 0-2.

“We’ve had a good week,” Trojan coach Jason Boyette said. “We had two conference wins and a good one over Cleveland. We’re still not serving as well as I want them to, but we’re getting there.”

Garner had no trouble taking control in the first set, scoring the first 14 points in breaking serve on the first point before senior libero Gabrielle Lee served 13 straight.

“I don’t remember many more than 13 straight,” Boyette said of the serving streak. “We’re passing the ball pretty well, and our defense is playing great. We’re making some errors on offense, but I have no complaints with our defense right now.”

But the Wildcats, who finished 22-7 and second in the conference last year, got better as the match went on.

“We lost six starters last year and this has been a growing process,” veteran West coach Jerry Hogan said. “Sometimes an important step in growth is getting knocked down. Sometimes those moments in the valley are the best way to get to the mountaintop.

“I still believe this is a state playoff team. I was glad to see us step up and play better as the match went on.”

Garner led just 12-8 in the second before Courtney Weathersbee served five straight to open up the set. West never got closer than seven points back in that one.

“I think we were really playing to our potential in the first two games,” said Weathersbee, who finished with three kills, four digs and 13 assists. “It was great to get ahead like we did in the first one. (Lee) did most of the work for us and we just finished it for her.”

West got something going in the third, scoring seven straight points with Kirsten Bost on the serves cut a 22-13 lead to 22-20 before the Trojans got the serve back.

“I’m so proud of my team for the way we came back,” said Bost, who had a 92.3 serve percentage including one ace and added four kills. “We got off to a really slow start. Maybe we were jittery playing Garner. But we fought hard in that last set.

“We’re a really close team, even more than last year’s team off the court. We just haven’t put the puzzle together yet.”

Garner senior outside hitter Ka’asha Jefferies had eight kills and two assists.

“I don’t think we’re at our peak yet, but we’re getting there,” Jefferies said. “We’re working on our communication. This is a game of errors, and some errors are OK.

“The first set was fabulous. (Lee) was doing a great job on the end line.”