Enloe coach Shammara Jones would rather her volleyball team acquire a killer instinct, but she’ll take a come-from-behind effort like she got Monday night at home against Knightdale.
The Knights, the defending Greater Neuse River Conference champions, jumped to a 2-1 lead, but the Cap-8 Eagles rallied to an 18-25, 25-17, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12 victory.
“They’ve got that fire inside of them, and they just pull it out,” Jones said. “I don’t know how we do it, but they do it.”
The Knights’ Nia Singletary closed out the third game with two kills, and Knightdale (2-4) then took a 2-0 lead in the fourth game. But Enloe (5-2) didn’t wilt.
“We just keep it fresh,” said senior hitter Alese Cousar. “We work hard together and push each other. We just try to have fun and stay positive.
“We started off slow, but we picked it up at the end. We have to try to stay consistent with our effort. Sometimes, we slack off a little bit, but then we get back up. We’ve got to learn how to stay up and keep going up.”
Knightdale took a 4-3 lead in the fifth game, but a Knight service error tied it. Julie Cybrynski had two kills and Kelly Wu had an ace as Enloe reeled off five consecutive points to take control of the match.
They said it
Jones on her team’s inconsistent play: “Sometimes they have little farts in their brains, but they keep fighting. They amaze me every single game.”
Three who mattered
Alese Cousar, Enloe: The senior hitter helped turn a 2-0 deficit in the fourth game to a 6-2 lead with five terrific serves, including one ace. She also had nine kills, including two in a row to close out the second game.
Nia Singletary, Knightdale: Knightdale’s senior hitter put on a show, posting 17 kills, including five in the decisive game. “You can’t really ask for anything better from her,” said Knights coach Ross Fields. “Seventeen kills is almost a Herculean effort.”
Kelly Wu, Enloe: The freshman has earned her playing time in the middle, and her serve in the fifth game was crucial to Enloe’s win. “Kelly is a blessing,” Jones said. “Kelly has a thirst for the game. She doesn’t play like a freshman, she doesn’t have that timidity about her. She makes a mistake, and she shakes it off.”
Knightdale had periods of brilliant play, but made too many mistakes.
“The moment we can make the light continue to stay on, as opposed to just flicker, I don’t think there’s a team that will be able to play up with us,” Fields said. “When we have it, we have it. When we don’t, oh, it snowballs fast.”
Fields wants his players to be like a quarterback in football; have a short memory.
“They tend to dwell on the one, even though we tell them, ‘Go for the next one,’” Fields said.
After giving up four consecutive points in the fourth game, Cousar had a perfect set come her way. Her twin sister Alia Cousar then yelled, “And you kill that!” Alese did with a solid hit for a 16-11 lead.
Both teams have freshmen playing key positions. For Knightdale, it’s Lainey Anderson.
“Laniey Anderson sets everything,” Fields said. “She’s learning, and when she gets more strategy and more rhythm in her head, she’ll be able to run an offense and be able to utilize our five senior offensive weapons that we have surrounded her with.”
Both teams are hoping to use this matchup to improve for conference play that begins this week.
“I’ve loved playing these teams in the Cap-8,” Fields said. “They bring a good challenge, they attack, they serve well. That gives us a chance to continue and go up against our own conference, and I’m excited to see what our opponents have in store for us, because we have some surprises in store for them. This is a different team than the one that won the conference last year: completely different strategy, systems, everything.”
Enloe is hoping to surprise some teams in the Cap-8, and Jones is trying to rid her team of a defeatist attitude.
“I’m really excited about the conference,” Jones said. “There are always those ‘name’ schools that the girls are like, ‘Oh, we still have to play (them).’ But I tell them, ‘When we play our best, nobody can beat us.’ …
“I think people are not going to just say, ‘Oh, here comes Enloe. Let me put my third string in.’ They’re really going to have to play when they come to play us.”