Seahawks beat Washington County to snap streak

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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It’s been almost two years since the Southside volleyball players walked off the floor smiling after a match. That changed Wednesday as the Seahawks snapped a 29-match losing streak that dated back to the fall of the 2021 with a 25-14, 25-10, 25-14 sweep of Washington County in the Southside gym.

“The girls were very excited and the win gave them a huge moral boost,” second-year coach Haley Hamilton said. “Last year was rough on all of us and the team was determined to not go through another season like it.”

Hamilton, who played at Jacksonville Northside, came to Southside to teach Biology in 2021 after a year teaching and coaching at P.S. Jones Middle School in Washington.

She took the Seahawks coaching reins last season and inherited a squad that was not only young, but inexperienced as well.

“Most of them played only one season in middle school and some didn’t start playing until they came here,” Hamilton said. “We were just not as skilled as our opponents, but the returning players were ready to get to work before this season even started.”

Hamilton cited several players for extra work this summer including juniors Lily McLean and Tamya Smith along with sophomore Taylor McRoy, who went to the East Carolina University volleyball camp. Hamilton held eight workouts over the summer and several toward the end of school last year.

“They were begging me to open the gym so they could work on improving,” Hamilton said. “I knew I had to step it up as a coach and the girls were ready to get to work, so this win is a reward in way for what they put into it.”

The Seahawks were part of the Rocky Mount Jamboree earlier this month and faced several 3A and 4A schools along with 2A Washington High School in seven 20 minute matches.

“I told them playing bigger, better schools would help them get better and they performed well against tougher competition,” Hamilton said. “They are good friends off the floor and want to do well for each other. We’re serving the ball better, going after the ball better and communicating better. We grabbed the lead early in every set and hung onto it. We are relieved and excited to get the victory and we’re planning on getting a few more. We’re excited to see where the season goes from here.

Hamilton said Smith, I’Kiriyah Minor and McRoy will handle the setter position, while McLean (outside hitter) and senior Najah Warren (middle hitter) will contribute on the front row.  Hamilton said sophomore Emily Mondragon will be a defensive specialist on the back row.