by Becky Kimbrell Norris
WAKE FOREST — The Franklin Academy volleyball team played better as the match went along, but the offense of visiting Voyager Academy was took much as the Vikings defeated the Patriots, 3-0, in Tuesday’s North Central Athletic Conference match.
A very good Voyager Academy team took Franklin Academy apart in the first set, 25-17, but the Patriots came back stronger in the next two frames despite losing 25-22 and 24-26.
“It was a really tough loss for us,” said Franklin Academy coach Jaclyn Cox. “The match was one of the most competitive ones we have played.”
The Patriots, 6-5, and 4-4 in the league, had a difficult time scoring on the Vikings and their offense had good ball control and when they got out of system, their hitters put the ball away.
In the first set, Franklin Academy looked a little rattled but in the second and third sets, it was a lot different. They touched a lot of balls at the net, made some incredible digs off very hard hit balls and put some creative shots away from points; just not enough points to win.
“Voyager Academy is a solid team and they play aggressive,” Cox said.
The Vikings, 11-3, 9-1, led from the start in the first set and jumped out to an 11-3 lead and then extended that lead to double figures at 21-11.
A kill by Joy Rhodes pulled the Patriots to within five points at 22-17 but then the Vikings scored the next three points to secure the win.
An ace and a couple of kills in the second set put the Vikings on top for good at 17-16. Franklin Academy once again closed the lead to two points at 24-22 thanks to attacks by Rhodes and Brianna Schmid and a block by Arissa Rohrs and Schmid but Voyager went on to take a 2-0 match lead.
The biggest lead the Patriots had in that set was one point.
The third set was back and forth and the Patriots came out attacking right away on three consecutive kills by Schmid.
“She is such a solid player,” Cox said, “and very aggressive. I only expect her to improve even more.”
Franklin Academy made Voyager work extremely hard for its points while they kept a small edge over them.
The Patriots went up 14-10 before the Vikings rallied back and went on a 6-0 run to take an 18-16 lead.
Franklin Academy regained the lead at 20-19 and again at 22-21.
A point by Baylee Bridgland and a block by the Patriots increased their advantage to 24-21 and it appeared there would be a fourth set.
Voyager had more tools in the chest though and tied the game at 24-24, forcing Cox to call a timeout.
“I really thought we would pull this set out,” Cox said. “After the timeout, we played the right side and didn’t hit the ball.”
“Their server was also giving us low balls, making it hard for us to get to them,” Cox added.
Cox said during the timeout her team was confident they would pull the set out.
“We came into the first set intimated but in the second and third sets, we played with confidence,” Cox said. “I was happy that the girls didn’t get down on themselves and they continued to play hard.”
The Patriots are currently in fourth place in the conference standings with four games remaining.
“I really thought we would be higher in the conference,” Cox said.
Cox said she hopes her team will make some more progress as the post-season approaches.
“I’d like to see our defense improve,” she said. “We have some powerful hitters and I like that we continue to practice and compete hard.”
Franklin Academy will host Raleigh Charter on Monday at 6 p.m. The Phoenix are in second place in the league behind Voyager Academy.