When the D.H. Conley varsity volleyball team started workouts in June, players and coaches didn’t know if they would have a season, or how long it would last.
Now that the season has started, Vikings’ head coach Jennifer Gillian said they are going to enjoy every minute of it.
It’s also fun when you win, as last year’s Eastern Finalists swept Pitt County rival J.H. Rose 25-18, 15-15, 25-16 Monday night in Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A play. The Vikings (2-0) moved into a tie with South Central (also 2-0) in the conference.
“This year’s team is just a solid team all around,” Gillikin said. “We have an offensive-minded team for the first time in a while, we also have a solid back row. Everyone except (freshman) Ashlyn Philpot is returning, and they all have experienced the big game. They’ve been there and been a part of them.”
Conley was led by setter Olivia Lefever, who had 38 assists. Hitters Ella Philpot (12 kills, four blocks), Sarah Dees (11 kills, four blocks), Ashlyn Philpot (seven kills) and Maddy May (six kills) paced the offensive attack.
Defensively, Caroline Dobson led the Vikings with nine digs while Lilley Bennett added seven digs.
“Playing these kinds of matches is why the kids play,” Gillikin said. “The intensity is so much greater than a lot of the other matches we play. A lot of them play club ball in the offseason so they know what each other is capable of and they’re comfortable around each other. It’s a good rivalry and always have been.”
Annika Stoakes used a strong last mile to pull away from defending conference champion Hana Smith of New Bern, taking first place in cross country action on Monday at Boyd Lee Park.
Stoakes’ win proved to be the difference in the team competition as Conley edged out conference rivals South Central and New Bern. Conley scored 31 points, South Central had and 33 and New Bern finished with 68.
Stoakes time of 20:52 was her personal best for a 5k course. Conley also got top-10 finishes from Alice Guth (4th), Haley Ferrell (6th) and Caitlin Brown (9th).
On the boys’ side, Conley’s Garrett Miller pulled away from teammate Landen Williams in the final mile to take first. Conley took five of the top eight spots to record a low score of 20 points, ahead of conference rivals South Central (37) and New Bern (85).
Finishing in top 10 positions for the Vikings behind Miller Williams (2nd), Scout Hill (3rd), Owen Thorndike (6th), Bryson Bingaman (8th) and Noah Anderson (9th).
Conley and South Central will face each other again tomorrow in a dual meet at Boyd Lee at 3:30.
D.H. Conley 2, J.H. Rose 0
Conley swept the Rampants to improve to 2-0 like their varsity counterparts.
Korinne Rheinfrank had six kills for the Vikings, while Mallie Blizzard added five kills and eight assists, Reagan Kresho notched five kills and Maddie Vestal added four blocks.
Conley travels to Southern Wayne on Monday.