The Clinton Lady Dark Horses hit the road up Highway 421 on Tuesday evening as they traveled to Midway for a big volleyball showdown with the Lady Raiders. Both teams entered the match with impressive records, but taking round one was Midway, winning 3-1 in a highly intense battle.
In the first set, the Lady Horses came out firing on all cylinders. Their blistering kills had the Lady Raiders all kinds of out of sync. After an early 1-1 tie, Clinton surged ahead for a 6-1 lead to force a timeout from the Midway sideline. The timeout didn’t slow the Lady Horses momentum as they maintained their at 10-5. Finally, Midway seemed to gather some steam as they drew to within 10-8 but the Lady Raiders would get no closer. Clinton extended their lead back to 15-9 and eventually cruised on to the first set win at 25-14.
The fire that Clinton played with in the first set, however, fizzled beyond that. Midway countered Clinton’s effort in the second set as the roles seemed to reverse.
The Dark Horses looked to pickup right where they left off in the second set as they scored the first four points. The Lady Raiders, though, fought right back and tied the game up at 5-5 to prompt a Clinton timeout. From there, Clinton held minimal leads until Midway tied it back up again at 9-9.
After taking their first lead of the match at 10-9, the Lady Raiders never looked back as suddenly it was the Lady Dark Horses that looked addled and out of sync. Simple things as serve receptions became tough as the Lady Raiders began reeling off easy aces. The Midway lead was 15-10 when Clinton signaled for a time out. From there, just like Clinton in the first set, the Lady Raider weren’t going to be denied as they went on to win the set 25-14, tying the match at 1-1.
Set number three was a much closer battle that went down to the wire.
The lead exchanged numerous times throughout the opening portions of the set. Midway, though, emerged ahead at 9-8 and extended that lead to 15-8. The Lady Dark Horses managed to trim the deficit to 15-12 to prompt a timeout by Midway. Out of the time out, Clinton pulled to within 15-13 but the Lady Raiders didn’t allow the Dark Horses to get much closer as they took the set win, 25-19.
After such a strong start to the game, Clinton was now faced with a 2-1 deficit as Midway seemed to have claimed momentum.
In the fourth set, much like the third, the battle was neck and neck throughout the early portion. Again, Midway emerged as the leader, again at 9-8, as the Lady Raiders expanded the lead to 15-9. This time, though, Clinton fought back. The Lady Dark Horses mounted a rally and tied the set up at 16-16. The Horses, then, even led at 17-16. Midway, though, was unscathed. The Lady Raiders dug deep and went back ahead and led late at 25-20. The Dark Horses would tally a couple late points but Midway held on for the 25-22 victory to win the contest 3-1.
Stepping up big for Midway was Alexis Jackson who had an impressive 15 serve points and six aces as Clinton struggled adjusting to her serve. Alyssa Wrench led the team with 12 kills with Caitlyn Holland right behind at 11 kills.
After the game, Midway head coach Brandy Wrench spoke highly of the Dark Horses.
“Clinton started off strong. They were aggressive on the net, which we knew they would be. That’s the type of team they are,” Wrench said.
“We were not aggressive and it makes a huge difference when you are not playing at or above the level of the other team because then you’re going to struggle to get on top. For the next three sets, we had to change the way we played. We knew we had to pick up our defense and start playing Midway ball,” Wrench concluded.
With the win, Midway improves to 7-0 and 3-0 in the East Central Conference. They have another huge test on Thursday when the travel to take on East Duplin. Like Midway, East Duplin is undefeated at 12-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
For Clinton, they drop to 6-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference. They are back in action on Thursday when they travel to take on Goldsboro.