HOLLY SPRINGS — Ending the season on a hot streak has no downside. Losing one of the best players on the team while on that hot streak does.
But Holly Springs made the right adjustments, and has now won three matches since three-year starter Jaclyn Brewington tore her ACL during the regular-season finale.
The Golden Hawks had enough mettle to hold on in that match to beat Apex, then beat Fuquay-Varina for a playoff seeding tiebreaker. On Saturday, the Golden Hawks cruised past Southeast Raleigh in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs, winning 25-10, 25-12, 25-12.
“It’s really tough, because she was a great thing to have on our court. She brought great energy,” said junior Mackenzie Reaves of Brewington. “We’re still the same team, we just have more responsibilities.”
One of the things that made Holly Springs hard to handle as its players begin to mesh with one another and first-year head coach Emily Rice was its attack.
With Brewington and Reaves, it had two players who could go up for a kill or stay on the floor to set. It had been difficult for opposing teams to get a feel for where the ball would be going on any given point.
Now, Reaves is the full-time setter, and others have stepped up.
Abby Redus had six kills while Makayla Cox had five plus three blocks. The team didn’t even need to use Kaelyn Dyson much to get five kills out of the Gardner-Webb recruit.
The Golden Hawks (14-5) had a whopping 21 aces as the Bulldogs (10-11), who had finished third in the Greater Neuse River Conference, struggled with serve-receive.
Holly Springs almost completely kept Southeast out of its offense the Bulldogs had just eight kills for the whole match.
But don’t be mistaken by Southeast’s loss. This was a rewarding year for the Bulldogs, particularly without a junior varsity team.
Its mix of seniors and those just learning the game doubled the win total from a year ago.
“They’ve come a long way, but we’ve got some work to do,” coach Whitney Lamm said. “We’ve fought hard to bring a better name to Southeast.”
The Bulldogs’ Kristin Weathersby had two blocks and a kill while Brianna Tyson had three kills. Tyra Burl also added two blocks and a kill and Tiffany Dunham and Tiffany McCarter each had one kill.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps