Tempestt Frazier is known as a big hitter for Havelock High’s volleyball team. But it was her soft touch that proved powerful for the Rams against West Craven Tuesday night.
Frazier’s dink over two Eagle blockers clinched a Havelock comeback, as the Rams rallied on Senior Night to beat West Craven 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 26-24 and 21-19.
Frazier, playing in the final volleyball match of her high school career at Havelock High, set up for another one of her strong spikes with the Rams leading 20-19 in the fifth and final set. Instead, she saw an opening and simply tapped the ball over two West Craven blockers. The ball fell softly just inside the sideline for the winning point.
“I just needed to be smart and think ahead,” Frazier said of her winning play. “Just because you’re a big hitter, you don’t have to hit it big all the time. You have to play smart and think in volleyball terms.”
With that final point, a season’s worth of frustration melted away for the 3-15 Rams, as the players jumped and hugged each other. Senior Alexa Rubenbauer had tears in her eyes.
“Words can’t describe. I’m speechless,” Frazier said. “I’m happy and all the words related to happy, excited, everything.”
The Rams lost the first two sets but came up with victories in the next two. With the fifth and final set played to 15, neither team could get the two-point advantage needed to clinch the match. West Craven had one match point that ended in a bad serve, but the Rams finally clinched the victory on its fifth match point with Frazier’s soft dink.
“It feels really good,” first-year Havelock coach Amy McCutcheon said. “They pulled it together and worked together as a team. The seniors really stepped up and fought hard for it.”
The Rams, who had lost late leads in matches this season, got it done on Senior Night in which Frazier, Rubenbauer, Shakina Dyer, Hailey White, Kierra Fleming and Laura Dunn were honored before the match.
“It was definitely motivation,” McCutcheon said of Senior Night. “Knowing that it was their last game here, they were definitely giving it their all. They played their hearts out.”
As for the Eagles, they had chances to close out the match in the fourth game. They led 24-23 and had match point but put their serve into the net. Havelock won 26-24 on Sha’Nice Frazier’s block, forcing the fifth set.
“We had a complete, total lack of focus on our serving. It’s that simple,” West Craven coach Sheila Holloway said. “We missed five serves in a row on sideouts when we had over 20 points, and you can’t do that. Serving is the only thing that you are in complete and total control of in this game, and when you go out there and completely lose focus, and on a non-high risk serve, you miss serves, there’s no excuse for that, absolutely none.”
In the first set, West Craven fell behind 12-6 as the Rams got a kill and block from Tempestt Frazier and a block from Fleming. The Eagles tied it at 15-15 and scored five straight points, going ahead 20-15 on Nishedra Brown’s kill. They eventually won 25-20 on a Brown spike.
West Craven fell behind 23-18 in the second set but scored the next seven points, capping the 25-23 comeback as the Rams hit a ball out of play.
“I’m proud of how far my girls have come this year,” said Holloway, whose team won three matches this season. “They have really, really improved in their first year with me, and they have really worked hard.”
Havelock took immediate control of the third set on Rubenbauer’s serve. White’s kill pushed the Ram lead to 18-10, and Havelock won it 25-20 when the Eagles hit a ball out of play.
That set up the Rams for the dramatic victories in the fourth and fifth sets.
“It was a big nerve-racking,” McCutcheon said.
For her part, Tempestt Frazier said she wasn’t nervous on the court as every critical point was followed by another until her clinching dink.
“It feels great,” she said of the victory. “Playing with my teammates one more time and winning, it’s good, really good.
“I love these girls, and I had a great year with them. Even though it wasn’t a great season, I don’t even care. Tonight was the best night. We played together, and I’m proud of us.”