ROCKINGHAM — Rockingham Middle School’s volleyball season got off to a rocky start. After dropping a hard-fought, five-set battle with Ellerbe on opening day last Monday, the Lady Rockets followed with a bye and a postponement.
Following a six-day hiatus, the Lady Rockets were finally able to return to the court on Wednesday afternoon when they welcomed the West Hoke Middle Lady Tigers.
The match served as a return to form for the traditionally strong Rockingham program as the Lady Rockets earned a three-set victory (25-15, 25-17, 25-13) over West Hoke. It was also the first win for first year head coach Wandesha Jackson.
“They all did really well,” Jackson said after the match. “They kept their energy up and we minimized those mistakes that we made against Ellerbe.”
Rockingham stormed ahead early and easily dispatched of their visitors by a 10-point margin in the first set. Jackson noted that serving was key in the early run and throughout the match.
“They were on today,” Jackson said of her team’s performance from the serving area. “They were definitely off against Ellerbe. They really stepped it up a lot and I’m proud of them.”
The second set opened with and error and two aces from Madisen Jackson to give Rockingham a 3-0 advantage. West Hoke benefited from of trio of errors by the Lady Rockets to even out the score, but Rockingham won a series of long rallies to take a 7-3 lead.
The Lady Tigers used two Rockingham hitting errors and a pair of aces to knot it up once more at 7-all. From there, Rockingham took control of the set with an 11-2 run which included two aces from Alley Crouch, a trio of hard kills from Addison Butler, a kill from Natalie Richardson, a kill and a dig from Haley Singleton, and a couple of impressive digs from Claire Clark and Emmaleigh Wood.
The sidelines and endlines played tricks on the home team as the Lady Rockets allowed balls on back-to-back rallies to fall into play while assuming they would land out of bounds. Those miscues combined with two West Hoke kills brought the Lady Tigers back to within five points.
After the two teams traded points, Butler rotated into the serving area with the score at 22-17. Once there, she tallied three line-drive aces to end the set.
After each team scored on an error to start set three, a Butler kill and a Singleton ace put the Lady Rockets ahead 3-1. The two teams traded points until back-to-back errors put the visiting team ahead 8-7 forcing the Lady Rockets to take a timeout.
The teams continued to go back-and-forth and with Rockingham holding a 10-9 advantage, Jackson returned to the serving area. From there, she stunned the Lady Tigers with nine straight service points – eight of which were aces.
With the comfortable 10-point advantage, Rockingham elected to enter some of its bench players into the game. To the delight of the spectators, the back-up players did not disappoint.
After entering the game, Abbie Taylor returned the ball with an impressive dig on a line drive serve. In the final moments Taylor and teammate Erin Drumwright each recorded kills to the delight of fans and their teammates.
“I’m really proud of all of them, even my sixth graders that came into the game late,” Jackson said after the match. “I knew what to expect from my returners, but the girls that came in off of the bench gave it their all. I was really impressed.”
The Lady Rockets (1-1) will return to action Thursday when they welcome East Hoke Middle.