A smashing debut

Published 11:26 pm Saturday, October 20, 2012

Riverside’s D’asya Wilson (11) tips the ball over the net during the Knights’ 3-0 win over Mattamsukeet in the first round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs at Riverside High School on Saturday. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

WILLIAMSTON — It’s hard to imagine that the Riverside volleyball team could have started its postseason run any better than it did on Saturday.
The Knights belted serves in all the right spots and finished off accurate sets as they smoked Mattamuskeet in three games in the first round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
Senior Jesse Anne Rogers led the assault with 11 aces, most coming in a near flawless third and final match, while fellow senior Madison Brandon hammered a team-high eight kills to lead Riverside to a 25-7, 25-11, 25-1 sweep of Mattamuskeet.
“We’re just excited to move on to the second round,” Riverside coach Herbie Rogers said. “I thought we did a good job of coming out and playing.”
The Knights (22-1), the No. 1 seed from the Four Rivers Conference, entered the playoffs having won 15 straight and were able to improve that streak to 16 by not overlooking Mattamuskeet (9-8), a wildcard entry from the Tideland Conference.
Leading into the matchup, Rogers shifted the focus of his practices to fundamentals and the move paid off.
“The good thing about this past week is that we practiced a lot and got back to some basic things,” Rogers said. “We got a chance to work on some conditioning and that was really good.”
The Knights barely broke a sweat as they used a 10-0 run to extend their lead from 13-5 to 23-5 en route to a Game 1 victory.
In the second match, it was more of the same as strong serving and execution allowed them to win 25-11.
Riverside hit its peak in the third match as Rogers dealt 12 straight points to take a 12-0 lead before the Knights went to their bench.
“Her last few games her serving has been coming along,” Rogers said. “That’s a key for us.”
Riverside didn’t miss a beat with its backups in as Erica Gurkin took the ball and kept the points coming as she dished out eight straight points before the Lakers were able to get on the board.
“I thought our second group came out and played well,” Rogers said. “They work hard at practice and they were able to get an opportunity to play and that worked out really good. Erica, Leah (Burch), Alexis (Warren), D’asya (Wilson) and Lawson (Perry) all came out and played good.”
The Knights playoff run will resume on Tuesday when they host the winner of the Northside-Creswell matchup.