Both Leesville Road and Wakefield were undefeated coming into Tuesday’s match-up of ranked Cap Eight teams, but each had traveled different paths to their success.
The Wolverines had lost a nonconference match and been in a few close Cap Eight battles en route to remaining undefeated in conference play.
Leesville Road had yet to lose a set this season, and in Cap Eight play, only one team had scored 20 points in a single set against the Pride.
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Leesville Road got its first true test against the Wolverines, losing a set for the first time after falling 25-20 in the second, but the area’s No. 1 team would leave the match unscathed with a 3-1 win.
“You knew that time was going to come that we were going to have some bad balls and they were going to have some good balls,” said Leesville coach Taine Mergenthaler. “I think they did well.”
Leesville Road (9-0, 6-0) used a balanced attack to take the first set, 25-18, before host No. 6 Wakefield (7-2, 5-1) countered to tie the match at one set apiece.
“That was our goal – get a set and win the match,” said Wakefield coach Cynthia Terrell. “One out of two isn’t bad.”
Wakefield used that momentum to jump out to a 9-3 lead to start the third set, but Leesville Road stayed composed despite being in unfamiliar territory. The Pride rallied off seven straight points to take the lead, prompting Terrell to call a timeout.
“We just made sure we stayed positive and didn’t get down,” said Leesville Road setter Zipporah Foster, who finished with ten aces. “We just had to trust each other.”
Wakefield was able to tie the score at 15-15, but Leesville Road went on to win, 25-23.
The Pride won the final set with a bit more breathing room, leading 12-4 at one point, and going on to take the match with a 25-15 fourth set win.
Terrell told the home crowd it was in for a great match as she introduced both teams before the match.
“It was expected with the battle of the undefeateds,” she said. “We made mistakes at the wrong time. But if you can get a set off Leesville and no one’s done that, then they’re beatable.”
The two teams meet again at Leesville Road on Oct. 4.
Wakefield continues conference play facing Enloe and Broughton this week.
Leesville Road plays No. 11 Millbrook on Monday before hosting No. 3 Cardinal Gibbons Wednesday.
“Next week we play Cardinal Gibbons (Wednesday), so (this match) shows us what we need to work on,” said Leesville Road outside hitter Sasha Karelov, who finished with 16 kills.
Gibbons has won the last three N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state titles, and finished second in the 2008 2A tournament after holding that title from 2005 through 2007.