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Entering a rainy Monday season-opening matchup in Wilson, it hadn’t been long since the Hunt High volleyball team had last played C.B. Aycock. Only this time, the results of the contest counted to the tally of wins and losses.
Just last Saturday, the Warriors and Golden Falcons squared off in a scrimmage with CBA taking home the victory, only a week shy of it counting. The next time the two schools faced, it again was a battle, but Hunt had learned a thing or two about its opponent and gained the upperhand in a 26-28, 25-17, 25-22, 14-25, 15-11 five-set win that came down to the details.
“Getting a win against C.B. Aycock is always good,” Hunt head coach Tiffany Rowe said. “I think they’re pretty comparable to us, and I knew coming in it was going to come down to the end.”
Whether it helped either team to be familiar with the foe, both teams matched one another spike for spike, block for block and point for point throughout the whole match. Aycock boasted an advantage with powerful spikes and a stiff blocking defense up front, but Hunt always found a way to stay in the match — even in sets it eventually lost.
“Even when we got down, we tried to pick ourselves back up and get out of it quickly,” said senior Meghan Martinez, who led the team with 13 kills. “We could have played a little more consistent, but I feel like for the first game, it wasn’t bad.”
Both schools have plenty to work on with more than 20 games left in the season to be played. But for the season-opener, it was a tightly-contested match where both schools traded runs throughout the match, with Hunt eventually making one final push that became the difference.
“Watching them in a scrimmage, I knew we were a pretty good match,” first-year CBA head coach Kimberly Hughes said.
Though it was Hunt who walked away with the victory, Aycock captured an early advantage, taking the first set and finding a way to hammer home key points at the end to put it away — though not easily.
Then, Hunt responded with a 25-17 performance in the second set to even the score and took a 2-1 lead on the Golden Falcons by squeezing out a 25-22 advantage in the third.
By the third set, the teams started to engage in long rallies that, at times, fooled one bench into thinking it had won the point before a diving dig kept the volley alive and hushed the oohs and ahhs of the crowd. It also left one team giving up a series of points in a row, then quickly storming back into it to tie the game once again.
“I think that’s just volleyball,” Rowe said. “It’s a game of rallies. I think when we needed the momentum, we would get a hard down ball and I think that’s what spurred us along.”
With a chance to put the game away, Hunt fell in the fourth set to force a final sprint to 15. That’s when Rowe thought some of her senior leadership and experience kicked in and made the difference.
“As we went into that last set, I feel like we were more aggressive,” Rowe said. “I think we made some good decisions on the net, so I think just staying aggressive and attacking, keeping them off-balance, that’s really what helped us out a lot.”
That aggression powered the team through the final set with a 15-11 advantage that closed out the match.
With Martinez leading the way with kills, her senior teammate Alea Jones, playing middle back, and junior Taylor Collins, followed closely behind her with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Rowe thought all three veteran players had huge roles in the win.
Jones led the way with seven solo blocks for Hunt, while junior middle hitter Meredith Jump contributed 34 assists in the victory.
On the losing side, CBA’s Bailey Wood led the way with 30 assists, while Abbey Thomas had a team-leading 12 kills and Tori Patnaude contributed five blocks.
Hunt’s Martinez thought it felt “really really good” to start her senior season with a win. She hopes the momentum can carry her team into a good season.
“I think we have a pretty solid team this year,” Martinez said. “We have a lot of tall people, a lot of tall people. We have a lot of talent all around, a lot of good back row players a lot of good hitters, a good setter. I think we’re going to be good.”