The Havelock High volleyball team fell in three straight games at Jacksonville.

The Havelock High volleyball team fell in three straight games at Jacksonville on Thursday.

The Rams stayed competitive but lost 25-19, 27-25 and 25-17 to the Cardinals, bidding to be the third playoff seed out of the Coastal 3A Conference with just one week left in the regular season.

Havelock, 2-14 overall and 2-10 in the conference, battled the Cardinals (10-9, 7-5) much of the match, similar to their meeting earlier this year in which Jacksonville rallied to win in five games.

“They’ve got some great hitters, and they’re very scrappy,” Jacksonville coach Melinda Rakes said. “They may not pass the ball perfect the first time, but they’re going to get it up and send it back over.”

All three sets were competitive, with the Rams using their size up front and strong hitting while the Cardinals played well all-around and were good at finding open holes in the court instead of just firing away and hoping to win by power alone.

“We really read the court well, which has been a big issue for us,” Rakes said. “We kind of like to swing away. We’re starting to see the court, see the holes.”

Jacksonville led 16-11 in the opening set only to see the Rams pull within one twice, the last time at 17-16. But Emily Rideout punched a kill and then slammed two more followed by an ace by Claire Harris to go up 21-16. The Cardinals clinched the set on another kill by Rideout.

The Rams threatened to take the second set, going up 22-21 after the Cardinals let a ball drop. But the Cardinals then ran what Rakes called one of their “system plays,” with Keenan Marks passing the ball from one side of the net to the other side to set up Rideout for a kill to tie it.

Marks then followed with a tip over Sha’Nice Frazer at the net for a 23-22 lead. But the Rams regained the lead at 24-23, and the score was tied at 25 when the Cardinals sealed the win on a kill by Cassie Padilla off an assist from Marks and an ace by Rideout.

The Cardinals took command of the third set midway through, scoring 10 straight points to go up 22-12 behind four aces, including three in a row, by Kaiya Wallace. Jacksonville clinched the set and the match on a net serve.

Tempest Frazier had three kills, two blocks and two aces to lead Havelock, while Shakina Dyer had four kills, two aces and a block. Hailey White had two kills and four aces.

Havelocknext plays at West Carteret on Tuesday before hosting West Craven in its final match of the season on Thursday.