Southwestern Randolph’s Carleigh Whitson sets the ball for her teammate against Forbush in the NCHSAA 2A West bracket playoffs at Southwestern Randolph in Asheboro, NC on October 23, 2021. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL
ASHEBORO — Following a five-set loss to Uwharrie Charter on Wednesday in the Piedmont Athletic Cnference Tournament championship, the second-seeded Southwestern Randolph Cougars volleyball team opened the state playoffs in Castelloe Gym by defeating visiting Forbush.
The Cougars, who let a two-set lead evaporate in their loss Wednesday, kept their intensity against the visiting Falcons on Saturday to advance with a straight sets win.
Southwestern Randolph took the match 25-15, 25-8, 25-13.
Cougars coach Darby Kennedy said her team came in prepared to finish, unlike the conference tournament final.
“Wednesday night’s game, we came in with a little too much confidence and too much comfort,” said Kennedy. “We expected to win. Today, we didn’t know how big of a fight we would have.” She said the loss to UCA “taught us a good lesson.”
Kennedy’s team had control of the match after two sets and held on through the decisive third set.
“In that third set today, we let them come back a little bit,” Kennedy said. “We pushed through and finished strong.”
The Cougars were actively communicating during the match and Kennedy credited the team’s preparation for the efficiency.
“These gyms have been loud this year, which has been awesome,” she said. “That communication is key in the huddle and during plays.”
Kennedy said the team spent two days getting ready for the playoffs and focused on individual skills for each player.
“It was a solid game and our serve-receive was solid,” Kennedy said.
The Cougars will be home against against No. 15 seed Hendersonville on Tuesday.