The last time Midway’s volleyball team squared off against East Duplin was just six days ago for the East Central 2A Conference Tournament Championship. This time, it was for a spot in the third round of the NCHSAA 2A Volleyball Playoffs.
Tuesday night’s meeting marked the fourth time this season the two teams have collided and just as all the times previous, the Lady Raiders bested the Lady Panthers in straight sets, 3-0.
Midway came out to a blistering start, forcing East Duplin to burn both of their timeouts early in the set as they raced out to leads of 5-0 and 7-0. Out of the second timeout, the Lady Panthers finally found their footing and dug in to tighten the contest. East Duplin pulled to within 7-4 but the Lady Raiders began to pull away.
Midway led 15-5 before East Duplin started chipping away but Midway held on, winning 25-21 to take the 1-0 lead.
East Duplin briefly led in the second set at 1-0 and 2-1, but Midway asserted their dominance and opened up an 11-5 lead to force the Lady Panthers into a timeout. Out of the timeout, Midway continued to pull away as it took its lead to double digits at 18-8. East Duplin called another timeout and the Raiders stayed off a comeback attempt to win the second set, 25-16.
The third set was the closest set of the night as East Duplin, facing elimination, wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The Lady Raiders began the set by building a 6-2 lead which was stretched to 15-8. The Panthers pulled back to within 15-12 as they continued to fight. Midway couldn’t create separation as East Duplin stayed within two or three points with the teams trading scores.
The Lady Panthers really made things interesting when they drew their closest at 22-20 but the Lady Raiders prevailed. Midway scored the last three points to win the final set 25-20 and win the match at three sets to none.
“The girls really vibed on the court tonight as one team. When a team comes in sync like that it’s going to be a great game. We’ve probably had one other game with that kind of vibe this season,” said MHS coach Brandy Wench.
“The girls give all they have for the games and as coaches we can’t be disappointed in them for any reason. They dug out some tough balls and got off great passes on top of that. The whole team played great,” she concluded.
With the win, Midway improves to 22-2 overall and now has a date in the third round with the No. 4 overall seed, Ayden-Grifton. The Lady Chargers are 20-2 overall and we’re the champions of the Eastern Carolina 2A Conference. Game time is set for either 6 or 7 p.m. at Ayden-Grifton.
Also noteworthy, Midway’s senior leader Leah Williams has been chosen as this week’s recipient of the Tom Suiter Extra Effort Award presented by WRAL. That segment is set to air Thursday evening.
Reach Daron Barefoot at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.