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Varsity volleyball sets up Rose for success 

TUES. | 01-26-21 | SPORTS

     After a deep state playoff run filled with upsets, the Rampant volleyball season has come to an end with a loss at the hands of 2 seed D.H. Conley High School (DHC) in the eastern regional championship game. The Rampants finished the season with a 13-3 record, marking their highest win percentage in five years and earning them the 15 seed in the  3A state championship bracket. 

     In their first-round matchup, the Rampants pulled off their first of many upsets against 2 seed Grey’s Creek, beating them 3-1. The Rampants then went on to knock-off 10 seed Hunt, in three nearly flawless sets which they won 25-16, 25-13 and 25-20. Next, the Rampants faced off against 6 seed Person High School, who they defeated 3-1. These three wins propelled them to a rival matchup against DHC in the eastern regional championship game in which they lost 3-1. 

     Head Coach Kelly Kraniak is proud of her team’s effort this season. Going into the season, her goal was to improve from last year by developing mental toughness and consistency. 

     “If everyone was on board with that, we had a high expectation to do very well within the conference,” Kraniak said.

Blue Medal Motivational Sports Fitness I

Graphic by Tierney Reardon

     The Rampants got on board and were able to go undefeated in their conference except for two losses to DHC. Kraniak cites their recent conference wins as a source of momentum which propelled them to make a deep run in the playoffs.

     “We built off of our finish in the conference, [and] we utilized that confidence to continue with our playoff run,” Kraniak said. 

     One of the team’s main focuses was having strong leadership. Senior captains Grayson Norwood and Tate Duke filled the leadership role for the Rampants. Both have played for Kraniak since they were in middle school through the East Carolina Junior Volleyball Club (ECJVC). 

     “To see them become mature captains, leaders of a team is just so nice to see because the underclassman and the juniors look up to them and they follow their lead,” Kraniak said. “They’re good kids and I’m really gonna miss them.”

     Although the senior leaders will be leaving, Kraniak hopes to use this past season as a building block for next season. 10 of 12 varsity players will be returning which bodes well for the Rampants in the future. Sophomores Helen Wiliford and Riley Cutler are two players that Kraniak feels have shown notable growth over the past two seasons and she hopes that other young players being pulled up from junior varsity follow in their footsteps. 

     “The JV kids that are going to move up to varsity next year as sophomores are going to have big numbers and big impacts,” Kraniak said. 

     Kraniak indicates that juniors Sloan Carlson, Sydney Boyer and Mikiyah Corey will take on that leadership role in stride. She, along with many others, have high expectations for next season. 

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