Home Local Sports Lady Wildcats keep it rolling with 4-set victory over Hamlet

Lady Wildcats keep it rolling with 4-set victory over Hamlet

Hamlet's Riley McDonald and Ellerbe's Lillian Hill during Monday's match. (Deon Cranford)

HAMLET – On Monday afternoon, it was announced the Rockingham Middle’s volleyball match with West Hoke had been postponed until Wednesday.  That made Ellerbe Middle’s match at Hamlet Middle the only match of the day in Richmond County.

Both Ellerbe and Hamlet entered the match 2-0, but the Lady Wildcats had earned their victories against in-county opponents Rockingham and Cordova. 

With a win at Hamlet, Ellerbe would not only remain undefeated, but would earn bragging rights as the county’s top team – and the Lady Wildcats did just that with a hard-fought 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21) road victory.

Just as it had in its previous two matches, the Lady Wildcats fell behind early in the series.  The opening set was a back-and forth affair with no team leading by more than three.  Ellerbe was stymied with hitting and serving errors, accounting for six of Hamlet’s first 12 points and forcing Lady Wildcats coach Jonathan Chavez to call a timeout with his team trailing 12-9.

Ellerbe attempted to rally, but a pair of aces from Hamlet’s Lexi Smith and Kalynn McCormick, along with a couple of hard kills from Aimee Lynn Dobson and Riley McDonald helped the Lady Red Rams hold on for a 25-22 victory.  McDonald, who finished the day with 9 kills, spiked the match point into an open area of the floor for the win.

From there, Ellerbe used a solid performance from the service area to steal the momentum.  Hamlet started set two with a trio of aces from Dobson, but the Lady Wildcats responded with seven straight points with team captain Kenley Smith serving.  After an Ellerbe error gave the ball back to Hamlet, Dobson responded with an ace and a kill to knot the game at 9-9.

The two teams traded points until Smith once again found herself in the service area with her team trailing 12-13.  Smith peppered the Lady Red Rams with several difficult to manage serves leading to an 11-point run which included 4 aces, 5 Hamlet errors, and kills from Smith and ZyRihanna Robinson.  Hamlet managed a few points in the final moments, but Ellerbe held on for a convincing 25-16 set two victory.

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Smith, McDonald, and Mackenzie Smith each contributed kills for Hamlet in the opening moments of set three to help the Lady Red Rams take a 6-3 lead.  Ellerbe used a series of Hamlet errors to knot the game at 7-7 and then Smith recorded three consecutive aces to put the Lady Wildcats ahead 10-7.  A McDonald kill and a trio of Lady Wildcat errors put the home team back ahead by one at 11-10.

After that it was all Ellerbe.  The Lady Wildcats ended the set on a 14-4 run which included six consecutive service points from Alisson Gonzalez Santiago.

Santiago and Lillian Hill showed up big for the Lady Wildcats in set four.  Several impressive digs from Hill and Madyson Cloninger kept rallies alive and helped turn a 4-4 tie into a 9-5 Ellerbe lead forcing the Lady Red Rams to take a timeout.

Santiago extended the lead with a pair of aces, but four hitting errors brought the Lady Red Rams to within one at 12-11 triggering Ellerbe to take a timeout of its own.  Hill, Santiago, Cloninger and Robinson turned back several Hamlet kill attempts keeping rallies alive and forcing the Lady Red Rams to make difficult plays often resulting in errors.  

With her team ahead 18-14, Hill increased the lead with back-to-back aces putting the Lady Wildcats ahead by six and forcing Hamlet to take another timeout.  Hamlet attempted a late rally scoring four of the next six points, but Ellerbe settled down and held on for a 25-21 win.

Hamlet (2-1) will have a bye on Thursday before traveling to West Hoke Middle next Monday.  Ellerbe (3-0) has completed its series against the Richmond County middle schools and will now take back-to-back trips to Anson Middle. 

On Thursday, Ellerbe will face Anson Orange and next Monday it will be Anson Blue, which welcomes the Lady Wildcats.

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