Eight seniors play final match for the Rams

The Havelock High volleyball team tried to send eight seniors out in style. Despite challenging West Craven at times, the Eagles pulled away in the end for a four-set victory over the Rams in their final match of the season Tuesday at Havelock High.

West Craven won the Coastal 3A Conference contest 25-21, 25-14, 24-26 and 25-13, ending Havelock’s season.

“We took the No. 2 team in the conference to four games, which is great,” Havelock coach Kelly Leonhardt said. “We went point-for-point with them and had some really good hits. I think we played fairly well. I don’t think it’s the best we’ve played. We started out fantastic and then lost a little momentum, but overall I think we did pretty well.”

Riding the emotion of senior night, Havelock (3-14, 2-10) jumped out to a 16-8 lead in the first set, getting three blocks from Shernecia Martin and two kills from Airanna Thompson.

However, the Eagles (13-8, 9-3) rallied behind kills from Erin Gray and Carson Jones, who put away the final point as West Craven won 25-21.

“One of the biggest things I’m most proud of with my team is their tenacity,” West Craven coach Sheila Holloway said. “We’ve come back in some pretty big games this year, either when things have been out of sync or when people have had to step up when some other folks were having a bad night.”

After the teams traded early points in the second set, Abigail Morris served for six straight points, with Jones capping the run with a kill, giving the Eagles a 12-5 lead they would not relinquish on the way to a 25-14 victory.

The third game appeared to be more of the same for the Eagles, who jumped out 9-6. However, a kill from Havelock’s Mikala Roberts put the Rams in front 10-9, and the contest remained close the rest of the way. With the score tied at 24-24, Martin put a ball away for the Rams, and Kailynn Simmons followed with a service winner as the Rams won 26-24.

“It was definitely exciting to see them win that third game,” Leonhardt said. “They decided to fight. I love it when they decide to fight.”

The fourth set started with the teams trading points in a 10-10 contest, but Gray served the next 11 points as the Eagles pulled away 25-13.

For Holloway, she wanted a test as the Eagles head into the state playoffs, and she got one.

“It’s always a toss-up,” she said of the matchup against Havelock. “With the energy they have here, you never really know what’s going to happen. They made my team think. That’s one of the things we had to do.”

The Rams lose seniors Martin, Thompson, Roberts, Simmons, Brice Goudy, Adrionna Young, Casey Hudson and Maddi White.

“It’s a lot,” Leonhardt said of losing her seniors for next year. “But, it means we can make a fresh start next year. I’m excited to see where things lead us. I really am.”