The Lakewood Leopards varsity volleyball team was back in action Monday night in non-conference play, but were handily defeated by county rivals, the Midway Raiders.
Despite a very strong start by Lakewood in the first set, Midway had their way with the Leopards in a game that was suppose to be a lot closer than it was. Lakewood raced out to a 6-0 lead, but after a wise and much-needed timeout by the Raiders, they began chipping away at the immense lead that Lakewood held. The timeout paid off in great measure, as the Raiders ended up taking the first set, 25-22.
In front of a crowd that consisted of a lot of fans from both teams because of the short distance between the two schools, the Raiders looked calm and focused as they soundly snapped Lakewood’s six-game winning streak.
However, the Leopards knew that being down by two sets to none was a tough hole to climb out of, fought long and hard in the second set, but to no avail. Midway would never build a substantial lead against Lakewood, and their largest lead was only four. That lead was reduced multiple times throughout the set, especially at the end when Midway had to fight off Lakewood to win the set, 25-22. The final point consisted of a controversial call. With the score 24-23, Midway served the ball toward the Lakewood left corner. The Leopards, assuming the ball was out, backed off instead of attempting to hit it back over and tie the game. Yet according to the line judge, the ball was in, meaning the Raiders came away with a 25-23 second-set win.
Nevertheless, Midway had all of the momentum shift in their direction which smothered Lakewood’s chances of a comeback in the third set. The Raiders jumped out to an impressive 14-5 lead in the third and final set, and never looked back. They would win 25-15 and shut out Lakewood, 3-0.
Lakewood head coach Sheila Davidson was frustrated at the loss, and was upset at the lack of consistency her team had.
“After we get a point and start to gain momentum, then serve the ball into the net or out of bounds,” Davidson said. “That will not beat a good team like Midway. Inconsistency is something she and her girls are going to try to overcome, and noted how her girls are going through the motions right now. We go through drills in practice in an apathetic way.”
However, despite the inconsistency, she once again praised sophomore Anna Beth Averett for her consistency every game.
“Whoever we play against, Anna Beth will always give you the same solid performance, and I love players like that,” added Davidson.
On the other hand, Midway head coach Whitney Lamm praised her team for their outstanding teamwork, but admitted game planning against Averett was a very tough task.
“Our strategy was to pass or hit the ball deep to make it harder for them to set her, but it didn’t always work,” she said. Lamb went on to say there were times that her team played it safe instead of keeping the pressure on and playing aggressive, and that is something her girls will practice on.
The Raiders were led by Leah Williams with 10 service points and 26 digs, Mackenzie Chavis had 11 service points and 12 assists, Alyssa Wrench had five service points, five digs, five kills and three blocks, and Autumn Byrd contributed eight assists.
The win allows Midway to remain undefeated with a 12-0 overall record and a 5-0 record in Four County Conference play, while the loss drops Lakewood to 9-3 and 6-0 in the Carolina Conference.
The Leopards will travel to James Kenan on Oct 4.