CALYPSO – Figuring out the last time North Duplin and Wallace-Rose Hill volleyball teams were a combined 9-0 might be impossible. And there’s a chance it never happened.

And the footsteps in the distance are East Duplin’s, which turned a small corner in their rebuilding project with their first win and another match that was nearly logged in the “W” column.

For James Kenan, the struggle to shake the losing blues continues.

That’s the skinny from last week, as conference play was to start this week for two of Duplin’s three East Central 2A schools, but not North Duplin of the Carolina 1A.

Here’s the recap from last week’s action.

Rebels burning

down the nets

North Duplin’s shot at a conference title increased dramatically when longtime power Princeton moved to 2A.

At the very least, it opened the door for everyone else.

Yet the young and talented Rebels will still need to overcome Neuse Charter, which started out with five wins in seven games, and Rosewood, which is 3-2 against five 2A schools. Additionally, Hobbton is also off to a 4-1 start and Lakewood is 3-2.

But conference matches for the Rebels start after a match this week with Lejeune.

It’s been nothing but smooth sailing for ND, which is coached by Heather Best, who has returned to the sidelines this season.

ND beat Spring Creek 3-0 last week to up its mark to 5-0. The Rebels won sets at 27-25, 25-17 and 25-11, and began this week having lost just two sets this fall.

Sophomore Madison Holmes slammed down seven of ND’s 17 kills, Megan McCoy had 11 aces, Reece Outlaw and Star Jaco combined for 13 digs and Riley Hatch had 11 assists.

Outlaw and McCoy both have 28 kills and have combined for 42 aces this season.

Logan Jones has 43 of ND’s 64 assists.

Bulldogs bark

to fifth straight

Wallace-Rose Hill won its fifth straight last week. While the Bulldogs’ opposition hasn’t been the U.S. Olympic team — Spring Creek (0-7), Pender (0-4), Union (0-2) — WRH has made solid progress at not only being more competitive, but possibly getting over the hump on close matches against better competition.

So the true test for the squad that has good hitters will be ECC play.

Yet, put in perspective, WRH has already won more games than it did in the spring season (4-8) and in that postponed season did not win a set in any of its losses.

Two more wins will be more than the Bulldogs had in 2019 (6-17). WRH won four times in 2018 and was close to .500 in 2017 (10-11). Yet the Bulldogs won more in 2016 (22-4) than it did in all the seasons combined since its second-place finish in the Four County 2A/1A Conference.

But happier days are on the horizon.

The Bulldogs took care of business twice last week by whitewashing Union (25-22, 25-9, 25-12) and then holding off Spring Creek 3-1 (25-17, 17-25, 25-15, 25-16).

In the win over Union, Emoni Bethea delivered seven kills and four blocks, Mary Hadden Braswell four kills, seven aces and nine digs, and Bailey Gatton four kills and five aces.

Braswell and Gatton combined for 10 kills and 15 digs against the Gators. Taylor Herring added four aces and four assists and Margelis handed out 12 assists.

WRH, spotless heading into its ECC opener against North Lenoir (2-3) on Tuesday of this week, will potentially play three matches the following week — Trask and ECC rivals Kinston and East Duplin.

Panthers making

giant strides

East Duplin (1-4) picked up its first win last week by handing Richlands (4-1) its first loss.

The Wildcats whipped ED in three close sets (25-20, 25-22, 25-22) on Aug. 23 in Richlands, but turned the tables on their rival 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 23-25 and 25-19) in Beulaville.

Zoey Stanley, Lanie Thigpen and Chandler Mobley combined for 15 kills and Addyson Jarman had four blocks.

The Panthers nearly avenged a season-opening 3-0 loss to Clinton on Monday of last week by losing a five-set heartbreaker. ED claimed the first and two sets 25-23 and 25-2) with the Dark Horses prevailing in the next two marathon sets 27-25 and 31-29, and then the match-deciding set 15-11.

Mobley had a monster match with 11 kills and four digs and Stanley was on point with eight kills and seven blocks.

Mary Landen Johnson chipped in with 29 assists and Jarman had six blocks.

Freshman Riley Kissler added six kills and nine of 16 aces the Panthers collected.

Abby Batchelor had 13 kills for the Dark Horses.

ED was to travel to Dixon yesterday (Wednesday) and open ECC play today against North Lenoir in LaGrange.

Michael Jaenicke can be reached at

Michael Jaenicke can be reached at