full speed ahead

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Riverside’s Rachel Baker (right) smashes the ball past the Manteo defenders during the Knights’ 3-0 victory over the Redskins in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs Tuesday at Riverside High School. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

Riverside’s run at perfection and a state title continued on Tuesday as the Knights pieced together three impressive games to top Manteo 25-10, 25-17, 25-10 in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs. With the win, No. 1 Riverside preserved its perfect record by extending its winning streak to 22 games as it heads into the District Round of the playoffs where it will face the winner of the Northside-Camden matchup at home on Thursday. On Tuesday, the Knights had to get past No. 4 Manteo (13-9), whom Riverside had already beaten twice this season en route to its Four Rivers Conference championship. “It’s always hard to beat somebody three times,” Knights coach Herbie Rogers said. “The good thing about is that we were playing at home, that really helps out. We had a big crowd here tonight.” That big crowd was not disappointed as the Knights got tremendous play from net players Rachel Baker, Madison Brandon, Alex Hardison and Jesse Anne Rogers. Baker was phenomenal as she tallied 19 service points to go along with her seven kills and five blocks. Hardison was a force on defense as well, as she tallied seven blocks and five kills. Rogers has five kills as well, and racked up 10 service points and four blocks. Overall, the unit came up big against a very aggressive Manteo attack. “I thought our block defense up front had a really good game, they did a great job of keeping balls off us,” Rogers said. “(Manteo) hit hard, we knew that was coming. … The whole front line played well.” The back row players also gave a great effort as Peri Ange, Alexis Ange and Shaniro Caceres seemed to track down everything hit there way, while delivering fantastic passes to help set up kills. After coasting to a 25-10 victory in Game 1, the Knights stumbled at the start of Game 2 as they trailed 6-2 early. It didn’t take long for them to find their rhythm. Riverside eventually took a 13-12 lead and then stepped on the gas as it used a 10-2 run to pull away from the Redskins. “We didn’t do a very good job doing what we needed to do early, we didn’t get into our offense until after the first couple of points,” Rogers said. “After that, we got into our offense and that was the difference right there.” In the third game, the Knights used an early 8-0 run that was fueled by solid serving by Rogers that turned a 4-4 tie into a 12-4 lead, and from there it was over. “We had some people do a really good job of serving tonight,” Rogers said. “And when you do that it really helps out. “In just about all three games I think we had somebody step to the line and help us make a run and that’s what you have to do.” On Thursday, Riverside will look to win its second straight district championship as it hosts either No. 2 Camden or No. 5 Northside at a time yet to be determined.