Volleyball: North continues climb up area ranks by sweeping South

There was little celebration after the first streak was broken, apart from a solitary "whoo" as the North Forsyth volleyball team switched sides. 

Before Wednesday night, North's history against South Forsyth was one of futility and little else. The Raiders had not beaten the War Eagles, or even won a set, in a great number of years, more than are recorded online. So even winning the first set, which the Raiders did by 25-15, was something of a milestone, even if North played it down on the court. 

That set was a sign of what would be a convincing, at times dominant night for North. The Raiders beat South 25-15, 25-11, 25-22, continuing to establish their place at the top rung of Area 5-7A and giving their stacked senior class something it had scarcely sniffed. 

"...We had a mental block against (South) for the longest time," North senior Maddie Bryant said. "We definitely broke that, so now we have the confidence to come out and beat anyone."

The "mental block" Bryant referred to reflected the experience of her and the Raiders' other seniors, who knew of nothing but losing to South. They took the War Eagles' past dominance as a sign of what was to come, and when the Raiders would get in a deficit, they'd just accept their fate. 

"If we would ever get down, it was kind of like, 'Okay, well, here we are again,'" senior setter Logan Taft said. 

The situation heading into this year's match, though, already showed signs that the status quo wouldn't hold. North had blazed through its non-area schedule, already flying past the 20-win mark, and South had sputtered, struggling to overcome the departure of a strong senior class and failing to crack double digits in wins.

North's players and coaches complimented multiple aspects of Wednesday's performance: the blocking, the pace of the offense, the team's poise. 

"They didn't get too high, didn't get too low on themselves," Raiders co-head coach Kelly Cecil said. "That's one thing with this group that you don't really see. They're not going to get too pumped up about anything, but they're not going to get too down on themselves, either. They stay pretty stable, for the most part."

That balance helped North (27-3, 2-0 Area 5-7A) survive a third set where South (7-18, 0-2) rallied its spirits and stayed within two points of the Raiders down to the last point of the match. The Raiders went to a formula that has worked many times this year, though, getting the ball over to the left side of the net to Bryant, who sent home the winning kill. 

North is set to face Lambert next Tuesday, and the Longhorns are the next obstacle the Raiders would have to cross to get to the top of the county's ranks. And the way this season is shaping up, a win there might be the path to an area title.

"That's kind of the big thing for us," Taft said. "So we're excited."