North Raleigh: Sports

High school volleyball: Cardinal Gibbons defeats Eastern Alamance

Juniors dominate the Cardinal Gibbons girls’ volleyball team in pursuit of an N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state title for the seventh straight year and 17th in the past 18.

But that doesn’t mean Alex Davis and her fellow seniors are sitting back and watching. Davis contributed seven kills and senior Meghan Wilkinson five aces as the Crusaders swept Eastern Alamance 25-11, 25-8, 25-11 in a third-round state playoff match Thursday night at Cardinal Gibbons.

“It’s an honor to be on this team and to be a part of the state titles streak,” Davis said. “We take every year as a new season and work hard. Every year we’re more determined to win the state title. Of all the teams I’ve been on, this one is the most fun. It just keeps getting better and better being on these teams.”

Briley Brind’Amour, a 6-foot-1 junior, led Cardinal Gibbons with nine kills on a night coach Logan Barber spread around playing time. Emma Longley, another junior who has been leading the team throughout the season, added seven kills.

“A lot of players got a chance to show what they could do,” Barber said. “It’s good to have a lot of people make a contribution. They have to be ready to play if anything happens in our matches coming up like an injury or we have to make adjustments.”

Eastern Alamance was coming off a hard-fought second-round victory against Triton and started slowly against the Crusaders, although coach Rebecca Wood recognized her team was a heavy underdog. Gibbons jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first game.

“I think the five-game match on Tuesday took a lot out of us,” Wood said. “We came out timid in the first game, and it took us awhile to relax.”

But ultimately Cardinal Gibbons was just too deep and too talented. In the second game, the Crusaders turned an 8-3 lead into advantages of 14-5 and 18-6.

In the third game, Eastern Alamance scored first for the Eagles’ only lead of the night. Eastern Alamance trailed only 6-4 instead of quickly falling behind by a large margin as in the first two games. But then Cardinal Gibbons ran off seven straight points with junior Tori Dozier serving six for a 13-3 lead to all but end the match.