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Middle School Sports Report

Photos by Deon Cranford.

Lady Rockets defeat Cordova in three sets

The Rockingham Middle volleyball team (5-3) won at in-county opponent Cordova Middle (3-5) on Wednesday afternoon in three sets.  The Lady Rockets won by scores of 25-13, 25-16 and 25-18.

After falling behind 6-8 early in the first set, Rockingham’s Natalie Richardson accumulated five consecutive service points to put her Lady Rockets ahead 11-8.  The two teams traded points on errors before the Lady Rockets scored three straight on an Alley Crouch ace and a pair of kills from Madisen Jackson and Haley Singleton.  A kill from Cordova’s Anna Hinson stopped the run, but a serving error put the ball right back in the hands of the Lady Rockets.

The Rockets went on a 4-point run, this time with Emmaleigh Wood serving.  After Cordova added two points on errors by the Lady Rockets, Rockingham finished out the set on a 6-0 run which included a pair of Jackson aces to win 25-13.

Rockingham broke open an early 3-1 score in the second set on a Jackson kill and three consecutive aces from Singleton. Errors plagued the next few moments of the set and both teams benefitted only from their opponent’s miscues. 

Two Jackson aces, another by Wood, and a couple of kills from Cordova’s Lizzie Lunceford and Aliah West were the major highlights that saw Rockingham push its way out to a 23-12 run.  The Lady Cavaliers found some life late in the set with kills from Hinson and Yazmin Gomez, but the deficit was too large.

With a late double-digit lead, the Lady Rockets opted to sub in some of its secondary players, and to the delight of the visiting fans, the match ended on an ace from backup Rocket Kaylea Peele.

It looked as though Rockingham was going to jump out to a big lead in the third. Ahead 7-3, the Lady Rockets lost track of the end line allowing a return from Cordova’s Madison Hancock to hit the floor uncontested.  Cordova used the error to their advantage tacking on three more points (a Rockingham error, a Hinson ace and a Lunceford kill) to knot the set up at 7-all.

Moments later, a Hancock ace put the Lady Cavaliers ahead 9-8, but Rockingham responded with a Jackson kill and back-to-back aces from Claire Clark to go up by two at 12-10  After the Lady Rockets pushed the lead to six (19-13), Hinson and Lunceford fought to keep their team in it with an ace and a kill respectively, but Rockingham held on winning 25-18.

Cordova will look to rebound on Thursday at Anson Blue.  Rockingham will travel to Hamlet (6-2) on Thursday.

Hamlet stymied by errors in loss to undefeated Sandy Grove

The Hamlet Middle volleyball team traveled to Sandy Grove on Monday with the first-place position in the conference standings at stake.  The Lady Red Rams entered the match with a 6-1 record while the Sandy Grove Lady Panthers were undefeated at 6-0. 

Early on in the match, it looked like Hamlet may hand Sandy Grove its first loss of the season, but the Lady Panthers recovered from a slow start to down the Lady Red Rams in 4 sets (25-13, 16-25, 22-25, 12-25).

On the floor, the teams were pretty evenly matched as fans were entertained with long rallies, acrobatic digs and hard kills by both teams.

The two teams traded points in the opening set until the scoreboard read 11-10 in Hamlet’s favor. From there, the Lady Red Rams scored six straight with Annika Briggs serving.  Briggs contributed an ace to the run, Riley McDonald added a kill, and the final rally of the run passed over the net 14 times before a Sandy Grove return failed to clear the net.

Up 17-10, the Lady Red Rams outlasted Sandy Grove the rest of the way to take set one 25-13.

Set two went south in a hurry for Hamlet.  After a Hamlet error gave the Lady Panthers a 5-3 lead and the ball, Sandy Grove went on runs of 6-2 and 7-0 to take an 18-5 lead.  After a Sandy Grove error, McDonald tried to keep the Lady Red Rams in it with five straight aces cutting the lead to just six at 18-12, but that’s as close as Hamlet would get.  Sandy Grove outscored Hamlet 7-4 to end the set and knot the series at 1-1.

Set three was the most balanced set of the day.  McDonald continued to play hard contributing an ace and a kill to keep Hamlet within three points at 11-8.  On the ensuing rally, Hamlet’s Kalynn McCormick made a phenomenal diving dig sending the ball back over the net.  The Lady Panthers then attempted to spike the ball at McCormick who had not yet returned to her feet, but an off-balance McCormick managed to push the ball back over the net where it was mishandled by the Lady Panthers pulling Hamlet to within two.

Another miscue by Sandy Grove brought the game to within one at 11-10, but Sandy Grove erased all of the Lady Red Rams’ momentum with four straight points leading Hamlet to take a time out.

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Hamlet slowly ate away at the deficit once again, and after a McDonald ace tied the set at 17-17, another McDonald ace and a Sandy Grove error put Hamlet ahead by two.

Hitting and serving issues ended the Lady Red Rams’ threat as the Lady Panthers outscored Hamlet 8-3 to win set three.  All of Sandy Grove’s final 8 points came from Hamlet errors.

Sandy Grove scored nine of the first 12 points and never led by fewer than five from that point on to earn an easy set and match victory.

Sandy Grove improved to 7-0 on the season and the only remaining Richmond County team on its schedule is Ellerbe.  Hamlet falls to 6-2 and third place in the standings (behind Sandy Grove and Ellerbe).  The Lady Red Rams will host rival Rockingham (5-3) on Thursday.

Rockingham football wins at Anson

The Rockingham Middle School football team improved to 2-1 on the season with a 26-0 road win over Anson Middle on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was a solid, focused team win,” shared Rockingham head coach Zach Freeman.  “We started off a little slow, but once we get rolling, it’s hard to stop us.”

Rocket lefty quarterback Gabe Clark had a big day completing 4-of-7 passing for 127 yards and two touchdowns.  He also had 44 yards and a score on the ground.

Tailback Chance Crowder, who is typically explosive in the Rocket running game, caught both of Clark’s touchdown throws.  Crowder finished the day with 3 receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.  He also added 83 yards on 7 carries.

Ty Covington and CJ Covington each had one reception for 32 and 25 yards, respectively.  The offense did not tally a single turnover.

Defensively, Shameer Jones (4 tackles, 1 INT), Ty Covington (6 tackles), Makai King (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), Najeir Harris (4 tackles), Darius Robbins (4 tackles), Crowder (3 tackles), Hayden Smith (2 tackles), Aiden King (2 tackles) and Trevor Smith (1 tackle, 1 fumble recovery) all contributed to the shut out limiting Anson to just under 50 yards of total offense.

The Rockets (2-1) will host Cordova (0-2) next Wednesday, Oct. 19, with kickoff set for 4:00 p.m.

Note: Coach Zach Freeman contributed stats and information to this article.

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