By Marty Simpkins
RALEIGH — Wakefield’s volleyball team will move on to the third round of the 4A state playoffs after they beat Holly Springs 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-20) at home Tuesday.
The Wolverines haven’t been to the third round of the state playoffs since 2013, which was the year they won their first state championship. Wakefield head coach Cynthia Terrell said the preparation coming into the match helped propel the girls to victory.
“We had a good scouting report and got some good footage of Holly Springs,” Terrell said. “We put our players against what they had on the court.”
Wakefield got off to a hot start with a 7-0 run at the beginning of the first set. Holly Springs closed within three points twice near the end, but the Wolverines held them off for a 25-21 victory.
In the second set, both teams kept taking the lead back and forth. Wakefield finally pulled ahead by two points at 12-10 and then they extended that advantage to 21-16. The Wolverines finished off the Golden Hawks with a 25-20 win.
In the third set, Holly Springs kept the match competitive and even got ahead at 13-11. However, Wakefield answered back with a 5-0 run to take a 16-13 lead and the Wolverines held the advantage from there. Wakefield won the game 25-20 to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
“Tonight we played with crispness and cleanliness on the court,” Wakefield player Ade’ Owokoniran said. “It was so amazing to be a part of it.”
Last season, Wakefield lost in the second round of the 4A state playoffs. This year as NAC 6 conference champions and a No. 5 seed in the east, the Wolverines redeemed themselves with a sweep over the No. 12 seed Golden Hawks.
“We felt it in our hearts before coming into this game that we weren’t going to lose,” Owokoniran said. “We couldn’t lose at home in the playoffs.”
All season long, Wakefield has relied heavily on Owokoniran and her hitting. The senior outside hitter has accumulated over 380 kills this year. Ele’Sia Williams has also been a big help for the Wolverines with more than 200 kills in her junior year.
Against Holly Springs, Terrell said the players did a great job passing the ball to the hitters, allowing them to get the big points at crucial moments.
“The passing game was phenomenal tonight,” Terrell said. “We rarely had any miscues from the back line. If we have an excellent passing game, everything else will take care of itself.”
With the playoff win, Wakefield extended their win streak to eight consecutive victories to give them a 18-5 record. The Wolverines also won their 10th home match of the season.
“We have to realize that teams are going to be just as good as we are, if not better,” Terrell said. “The girls have to step up their game at practice. We have to believe in ourselves. I think we have a good chance like anyone else.”
Wakefield will either play Ashley High School on the road or Leesville Road at home tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. The results of that playoff match did not reach press deadline.
“We’re going to have to raise our level and get better and better,” Owokoniran said. “I know we can do it. We’re Wakefield.”