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Eleven timely swings from Beddingfield High sophomore setter Brittany Dudley effectively turned a tense match with Smithfield-Selma into a runaway Wednesday evening.
With the Lady Bruins down a pair of second-set points against Smithfield-Selma, Beddingfield pulled one of the points back on a kill from senior Kaniya Thomas.
Then, it was time for the diminutive Dudley, at 5-foot-2, to dictate the pace from the service line.
Beddingfield tied the set at 24 on a Lady Spartans’ attack error, and Dudley gave Beddingfield a 2-0 lead with consecutive aces.
From there, Dudley opened the third set from the service line, and her eight-point run sent the Lady Bruins on their way with a 25-19, 26-24, 25-4 victory.
Playing without junior Makayla Everette due to a sprained ankle sustained over the weekend, the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference Lady Bruins (6-2) produced 19 aces as a team against nine service errors. Smithfield-Selma of the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference remained winless through seven matches and struggled mightily with serve receive in the final set.
“She has that potential every time she gets on the court,” Beddingfield head coach Kelly Vinson said of Dudley. “I think she missed her very first serve today, but she’s always got that potential. You just have to keep reminding her of it every time she gets back there.”
Beddingfield trailed just once in the first set after the opening point. But a 5-0 run followed, and the Lady Bruins responded to the only tie of the set at 5-5 with a 5-0 run punctuated by a cross-court kill and block by junior Ashlee Sauls. The six-point winning margin was assured once Aaniyah Sherrod, another junior, finished off the opening set with an ace.
Struggled mounted for Beddingfield in the second set as errors, both of the service and attack variety, piled up. Twelve ties and seven lead changes took place in the set, with the Lady Bruins staring at a 14-11 deficit following a service error. But a kill from Thomas erased the margin, and Beddingfield didn’t trail by more than two points the rest of the way.
Yet with the score tied at 22, consecutive attack errors by the Lady Bruins allowed the Lady Spartans two chances to capture the second set before Thomas and Dudley intervened.
“The second game was a little bit more of a nail biter for us,” Vinson said. “But I definitely like the way they came out and just took care of business the third game.”
While Dudley placed the final roadblock in Smithfield-Selma’s way in the third set, quality swings took place throughout the Beddingfield offense. From the service line, senior libero Kaitlin Abrams pushed the Lady Bruins from a 10-2 cushion to a staggering 21-2 advantage. When Smithfield Selma wasn’t making errors induced by Beddingfield servers, Sherrod, Neleh Bottoms and Sauls put kills down on the floor off of assists from Dudley.
“I just do what I have to do to help my team win,” Dudley said. “It’s not about pride. I just win as a team and lose as a team. It opens it up so much. When we just get our stuff together and when we cheer each other up, it really makes us a better team.”
Bottoms, in particular, displayed force on her kills in the third set after the teams failed to showcase much of a power presence at the net through two and a half sets. Smithfield-Selma committed a service error to end the match.
Thomas, who moved from an outside position to the middle with Everette out, tallied six kills. Bottoms, a sophomore, finished with five.
“That way, everybody else could kind of stay the same,” Vinson said. “Because we don’t do well when huge changes are made all at once. So we knew that Makayla couldn’t play (Tuesday), so we were able to practice that. They did a good job today; I was proud.”
Beddingfield is expected to regain the services of Everette when it opens the EPC portion of its schedule Tuesday at home against North Johnston.
“We probably could have taped her up and let her play on it, but I definitely need her on Tuesday,” Vinson said of Everette. “She sat in an ice bucket two different times for 20 minutes today. I told her that was her punishment for getting a sprained ankle over the weekend — she’s going to sit with an ice bucket while we play!”