TEACHEY— Wallace-Rose Hill was the heavy hitter.

East Duplin was the counter puncher.

The heavily-favored Panthers played top-notch volleyball a few times on the Bulldogs’ floor.

The final push propelled them to a come-from-behind 3-2 win, avoiding a big upset.

ED rallied from an 10-3 deficit in the tie-breaker to win 15-13.

The four other matches were equally as close as the winner only escaped with two-, three-, four and seven-point differences.

Maddie Simpson, Chandler Mobley and Emma Lanier had a hand in numerous Panther points during the comeback.

“We got pumped up and played really well in that last game,” said ED assistant coach Whitney Brown, a former player who graduated in 2009. “We played hard and smart when we got to that point.”

But until then it was WRH’s game to win, led by Bailey Gatton (11 kills, seven blocks), Mary Hadden Braswell (11 kills, six blocks) and Alexis Wilson (10 kills, six blocks).

An Emoni Bethea kill and two Gatton points pushed WRH to within five points of the win (10-3) before the momentum, which swayed from one school to the other, stayed in the Panther blue zone.

ED tied it at 11-11 as Mobley delivered two key shots. Simpson gave the Panthers the lead 14-13, and the two rivals played one of the longer points of the match.

The verdict denied WRH its first win over ED since 2015. That year, former Panther coach Susan Miller went on to win Coach of the Year honors.

“We’ve been 0-for against Pender and probably just one win over East Duplin five years ago,” said WRH coach Kevin Williams, whose club seemed to do everything but win this ECC contest.

“I was proud of our girls. We’re young and will keep getting better. We played competitively and our girls were clicking.”

Simpson had eight kills for ED, while Anna Hall hit the floor for 11 digs.

ED, though, didn’t try to blast shots across the net. Its shots were more in the well-placed floater category.

But at times they were effective nonetheless.

“We tried to have anyone but Maddie (Simpson) beat us,” Williams said of Duplin Elite’s Ms. Volleyball of last season. “She didn’t cause us a lot of damage with kills or hits.”

WRH shocked ED with an opening-set win at 25-23 as the Bulldogs took control by running off a 17-13 lead.

But an ace by Allie Lanier keyed a push. So did ED miss-hits and errors as the lead ballooned to 21-16.

Simpson got it to 22-20 and a WRH miscue to 24-23.

Bethea pushed the winning point over the net.

The two teams traded the lead five times in the second set before ED scored three consecutive points to go in front 20-17.

ED scored the final five points to win 25-22 and tie the match at 1-1.

WRH rallied from five-point deficits three times in the third set only to fall 25-21. The third blitz got it to 21-20.

But Mobley came through with two huge plays and then the winning point. Lanie Thigpen added a key shot that went to the right place at the right time.

With the Panthers up 2-1, it must have looked over for the home team.

WRH’s many hard hits appeared to daze ED in the opening moments of the fourth set.

Two Gatton hits were part of a 7-1 start. It got to 10-4—and then ED ran off six of the next seven points.

“We got through that one,” Williams said. “We hit the ball hard and well. But our biggest weakness has always been our passing. You have to get the ball to the net to get points.”

WRH pushed on and found leads at 16-10 and 20-14.

Yet the Bulldogs captured several key points to get to 22-16, including a Braswell’s laser that sent a message to ED that the match was about to go to a tie-breaker.

WRH’s upset bid was thwarted and it was a signal that the Panthers may not dominate Duplin teams as they did in the past, and that the Bulldogs are rising.

The match was ED’s first since being shut down for 14 days because of Covid-19 contacts by Panther players.

They beat Lakewood in their opener on Nov. 17.

The Bulldogs fell to 0-3 and were to travel to Beulaville early this week for its second ECC match against ED.

East Duplin was to visit ECC member Spring Creek on Thursday.

Tigers take down

Gators twice

Rachel Blanchard had five kills, seven digs and three aces and Emma Avent and Maggie Brown combined for seven kills and six aces as James Kenan beat Spring Creek 3-0 on Tuesday last week in Seven Springs.

The Tigers rolled to a 25-14 win in the opening set, survived a 25-22 thriller and then blasted their way to a win with a 25-18 third-set triumph.

Spring Creek visited JK two days later and suffered a similar 2-0 loss.

JK’s wins came after dropping a pair of matches to the ECC’s Clinton and Goldsboro.

Midway is on the charts this week. JK hosts the Raiders on Tuesday.

Princeton pushes

aside Rebels

Callie Thornton drilled nine kills and had a pair of aces, four blocks and four digs last Tuesday but it was not enough to overcome Princeton (6-0).

The Bulldogs, defending Carolina 1A Conference champs, took down North Duplin in straight sets — 25-7, 25-15, 25-12.

The Rebels’ Starr Jaco had six digs and five assists, and Samantha Beavers six assists and three blocks.

Carolina Norris had 11 kills for the Bulldogs.

This week, ND (1-3) was to travel to Union and return home {for a league encounter with Neuse Charter.

Wildcats fighting

against the current

The hits just keep coming to the Richlands volleyball team, which has dropped it first four games of the season.

Its latest was a 25-20, 25-19, 25-13 loss to East Carteret last Tuesday.

Christa Golden bashed 14 kills and Anna Gillikin 11 for the Mariners (2-0).

Richlands (0-3) will host Trask (4-1) on Friday.

Michael Jaenicke can be reached at mjaenicke@ncweeklies.com

Michael Jaenicke can be reached at mjaenicke@ncweeklies.com