RALEIGH — The Lady Greyhounds won their second state volleyball title in four years with a grueling five-set thriller against South Granville Saturday.
North Surry, which won the 2009 championship, opened up with a 25-19 win in the first set.
Then the Lady Vikings came back and held a 20-17 lead in the second set.
South Granville Coach Jake Wohlfeil said he thought his team had that game and could tie the match at 1-1 after playing nervous in the first set.
The Hounds ran off a 9-4 spurt to take the second frame and hold a 2-0 lead.
“South Granville, as experienced as they are, I knew they would make a run,” said North Coach Shane Slate. “It was the kind of battle I expected.”
The Vikings took an 8-4 lead in the third set, prompting a timeout from Slate. He called his second when the deficit reached 13-7.
The team may have relaxed after getting that two-set lead, he admitted afterward.
The Hounds could get no closer than five the rest of the way in a 19-25 loss.
In the fourth set, the teams were tied 3-all, but South Granville ran off four points. The Hounds would eventually catch the Vikings at 9-all, but after that the Vikings raced ahead to a 24-12 lead.
The Hounds held off the set point four times, drawing a timeout from Wohlfeil at 24-16, then the Vikings took the next point to force the 15-point tiebreaker.
On a coin toss, South Granville received the first serve.
From a 2-2 tie, the Vikings pulled out to a 7-2 lead. The heavy contingency of Viking fans were cheering loudly on every point.
The Hounds came out of a timeout with a renewed intensity and began chipping away at the lead. The six on the floor, the bench and the Greyhound faithful in the stands all erupted when North finally caught the Vikings at 11-all.
North went ahead 14-13 and had a chance to win, but the Vikings tied the score. The Hounds earned another match point, but the Vikings tied the match at 15-all.
The Vikings then earned a match point, but the Hounds came back to tie the match and go on to win 19-17 as Viking star Mary Catherine Preddy hit a spike long.
Preddy, who will be attending N.C. State next year, said she knew as soon as she hit it that the ball came off her hand wrong.
Of that final sequence when both teams earned match points, North senior Kristina Rumplasch said, “Oh, it was nerve-wracking. But, we couldn’t give up.”
Teammate Malaya Johnson echoed that sentiment, saying she kept thinking the whole fifth set that she couldn’t let up or think about losing. The girls all worked too hard to get to this point to give up without a fight.
A fight is exactly what the Vikings’ Summer Williamson called the final set.
“Just one more,” Williamson thought when the Vikings finally held a match point.
“It was a tough situation, but the team was able to respond,” said Slate.
In volleyball, it is really tough to change the momentum once it swings to one side, he said.
As for what let that momentum slip away, Slate said the team became passive. Rather than attempting to make plays, the girls were trying not to make mistakes, even when serving.
Rumplasch and Johnson thanked the North Surry fans for making the long trip to Reynolds Coliseum to show their support.
After the game, Johnson earned the MVP award. The junior led the Hounds with 13 kills and 12 blocks. Rumplasch, one of three seniors on the squad, provided 12 kills, 11 digs, six blocks and went 19-19 serving.
Senior Molly Martin added 10 kills and Taylor Hill six.
The Hounds nearly had five people in double figures for digs as they energetically lunged and slid for spikes, tips and pushes.
Abby Golding led the team with 23, while Martin right behind at 22. Senior Maddison Hawks had 18 digs, Rumplasch 11 and Bailey Culler nine.
Culler also put up 40 assists for the front line.
Hawks was 20-20 serving with two aces. Golding was 17-17 with one ace, Martin 24-25 with two aces.
One of the NCHSAA officials at the coliseum said he has been to the past eight finals for all four classes. Of the more than 30 matches he has seen, this was the closest and most exciting of them all.
And the match was just a little better because North brought home the trophy.