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Pitt County home to volleyball powerhouses

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South Central’s Kayla McDuffie celebrates during their game against J.H. Rose on August 28, 2018 at Rose. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 17, 2018

It’s difficult to win the first 11 games of your season consecutively, and it shows the mark of a true contender for a state title.

Try having not one, but two of those in the same conference. Add another that at 9-3, continually fights for its chance at a conference and state title. Add another one that sits at 10-1 and continues its run of excellence in the sport despite its much smaller size compered to those listed earlier, and one that holds a large portion of its roster from the same area and sits at 10-1.

The area is Pitt County and one Kinston school with Pitt County talent. South Central, D.H. Conely, J.H. Rose, Kinston’s Arendell Parrott Academy and Ayden-Grifton have all dominated on their respective volleyball courts and others. 

Ayden-Grifton (10-1, 3-0) in the 2-A ranks has lost just four sets all season, three of them coming in its season-opening loss to South Central. Since the loss, it has been smooth sailing for the Chargers, who hold a perfect 3-0 record in the Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference with wins over South Lenoir, Washington and Kinston. As the schedule sits, A-G has the opportunity to win out for the remainder of its season, guaranteeing a clear run for a conference title and a high seed in state tournament play.

The 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference holds three programs which fight all season for the right to claim a conference championship and then work into state title play. The grueling schedule makes it seem like South Central, J.H. Rose and D.H. Conley play with the intensity of a state tournament all season long.

SC and head coach Kayla Ruffin hold a perfect 11-0, 3-0 record with a big win over Rose (3-0 at on Sept. 28), placing the Falcons at the top of the conference. The Falcons have given up only five sets this season. Quick reactions and strong blocks by the front line have them poised for a showdown with D.H. Conley for the first time this season on Tuesday, and they will meet once more as SC travels to DHC on Oct. 11.

Wednesday will give the Falcons another in-county test as they face Rose at home.

It’s all about the system for Jennifer Gillikin and the Vikings. Fluid passing and some powerful spikes headline an entertaining and supremely talented squad that holds an 11-0, 4-0 record. DHC has lost the lowest amount of sets in the conference and the county, dropping only two all season. After a 3-1 win over J.H. Rose at home on Sept. 11, Gillikin said she believed “there was not a better match played in the state tonight,” a testament to the level of competition presented by the Vikings’ rivals and conference foes. 

“We couldn’t ask for a better conference. To have three or four teams in the conference that are strong provides some really great opportunities for us to improve,” Gillikin said. 

J.H. Rose sits fourth in the conference, just behind leaders SC, DHC and third-place New Bern. The Rampants hold a 9-3, 2-2 record, dropping 17 sets to opponents. Close non-conference wins at Cleveland (3-2 on Aug. 21) and Ashley (3-2 on Aug. 24) show Rose’s potential. Power hitters and great on-court communication have kept the Rampants a team to be feared. Like his rival counterpart in Gillikin, Rose head coach Norman Cabacar understands that the intense competition in regular season helps prepare his squad for the post-season.

“South Central right now is clicking on all cylinders,” Cabacar said. “It actually helps us prepare for the playoffs. Our non-conference strength of schedule is something like second or third in the state. Then to have those teams that we play against in conference, at least those two teams (DHC and SC), it really helps make us better. It’s great to have these teams in our conference and to battle each other.”

Parrott Academy has many students who call Pitt County home. The Patriots sit a 12-0 as they prepare for play in the NCISAA Eastern Plains Conference. Only two opponents have snatched away sets from the Patriots in C.B. Aycock (in a 3-1 loss to APA on Aug. 8) and Caldwell Academy (a 3-2 loss to APA on Aug. 13). APA. Head coach David Barnes and his team will have stiff competition, especially in Cary Christian Academy, which currently sits atop the conference at 14-0, 2-0.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @Jake KeatorDR on Twitter.


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High Schools

December 15, 2018

Greene Central’s boys basketball team held off rival Kinston in overtime to bring home a big 64-58 win on Friday night in high school basketball. 

It was the first major win for new head coach Blue Edwards and was the third straight victory for the Rams (5-3). 

Imajae Dodd led the…


December 14, 2018

Farmville Central defensive lineman Keziah Everett confirmed he is ready to sign with East Carolina on Wednesday’s start of the national early signing period.

Jaguars head coach Scott Gardner confirmed Friday morning that Everett will sign with ECU, joining fellow Pitt County Pirate commits…


December 13, 2018

North Pitt junior wrestler Antonio Betancourt has shown promise as part of the Panthers squad. NP is coming off two wins at a tri-meet involving Eastern Wayne and Tarboro. Betancourt spoke with preps beat writer Jake Keator about the sport of wrestling and how he prepares for his matches. 



December 12, 2018

South Central remained undefeated on the basketball season after a big win over Bertie High School, 84-34, on Wednesday night in Winterville.

The game was pretty much in hand in the first quarter of the game due to the fast pace of the Falcons. They led 30-3 after the first period and…


December 12, 2018

North Pitt wrestling took home first place Tuesday night, topping Eastern Wayne and Tarboro in a tri-meet in Bethel.

The meet was originally scheduled to also include Nash Central. The Bulldogs were unable to attend due to not being in school on Tuesday.

The Panthers made easy work of the Warriors,…


December 08, 2018

Farmville Central’s boys’ basketball team defeated Greene Central for the second time this season, winning 72-64 in Snow Hill on Friday night.

The Jaguars (6-0) were led by a sensational performance by Terquavion Smith, who finished with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Justin…


December 07, 2018

Pitt County East Carolina football recruits Jeremy Lewis of South Central and CJ Johnson of D.H. Conley doubled down on their commitments following the arrival of new head coach Mike Houston this week.

Attempts to reach Farmville Central’s Keziah Everett for comment were unsuccessful.



December 06, 2018

This time, Farmville Central wasted little time exerting its will.

The Jaguars started fast and never looked back in an 87-44 win over North Lenoir Wednesday. One day after needing a late run to defeat Ayden-Grifton 91-78, Farmville Central (5-0) led for all but the first 1:20 of the contest.


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December 06, 2018

South Central boys basketball took down Greene Central once again Wednesday night, earning an 80-41 victory. 

It was the second meeting of the young season for these two teams, with the Falcons also taking the win on the road, 92-61 on Nov. 27. 

The Falcons were once again led by North…


December 06, 2018

It’s not uncommon for students at John Paul II Catholic High School to congratulate 6-foot-4 junior guard Jordan Yarrell on a great performance. The leader of the Saints is a true utility player, working on becoming even more of a leader of the small squad. Athletic Director Sean Murphy…

120618-Jordan Yarrell
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