When first-year head coach Brandy Wrench first spoke of her goals for the 2017 season back in the summer, she had one goal in particular: uphold the tradition that is Midway volleyball.
This monicker was echoed all season long as T-shirts reading “Protect This Legacy” adorned the Midway gymnasium. Although the Lady Raiders season didn’t end with the ultimate goal of a state championship, the legacy was most certainly protected.
For the second year in a row, Midway dominated the conference with an undefeated record. They also went on to claim the conference tournament championship, further building their resume. During the regular season, the Lady Raiders posted an overall record of 22-3, with only two schools being able to get the best of the valiant Midway squad; Corinth-Holders in a sweep early in the season and Ayden-Grifton in the state playoffs. All three games went down to the wire in five sets.
Along the way, senior leader Leah Williams achieved a handful of personal achievements. Williams went over the 1,000 digs mark for her career and was awarded the Female Athlete of the Week award by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Later in the season, the captain was also featured on and awarded the WRAL Tom Suiter Extra Effort Award. For the season, she led her team in digs by a landslide with 432.
After picking up the early season losses to Corinth-Holders to start their season at 3-2, the Lady Raiders really found their footing. They dug in and mounted an 18-game winning streak, including two wins over Lakewood,who was a 1A power this season with just 4 losses. The win steak also carried them right through the new East Central 2A Conference, where the Lady Raiders went 12-0 during the regular season and 2-0 to win the Conference Tournament Championship.
Also along this journey, Midway became very familiar with conference foe East Duplin. The two schools faced off four times — twice during the regular conference schedule, once in the conference championship game, and once more in the second round of the playoffs. All four times the Lady Raiders bested the Lady Panthers, who had a modest season themselves, finishing second in the conference with just the two losses to Midway.
It was in the third round of the state playoffs against Ayden-Grifton that Midway’s impressive run would reach its end. Even in defeat, the Lady Raiders fought proudly to the end, refusing to go down quiet as they pushed the Lady Chargers to the brink. Tied 10-10 in the fifth set after an Ayden-Grifton timeout, Midway simply ran out of gas. The Lady Chargers went on to score the final five points of the set to win 15-10 and win the match 3-2 to end Midway’s season.
Carrboro High School, a name mentioned numerous times along the Midway sideline this season, went on to win the 2A division of NCHSAA State Championship, posting a remarkable 31-0 record in a season which they only lost three sets all year. Community School of Davidson won the 1A division, North Iredell won the 3A division and Green Hope won the 4A division.
For next season, Midway returns plenty of talent, but does lose a big chunk of their team to graduation. Seniors Williams, Hannah Lucas, Logan Baggett, Rachel Hodges and Madee Royal have all concluded their volleyball careers at Midway.
Reach Daron Barefoot at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.