By Lucy Papachristou
Only a few days after their victory in the conference tournament, the Lady ‘Canes of Cape Hatteras Secondary School defeated the Rosewood Eagles 3-1 in their first match of the state IA volleyball playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 26
Coach Christine Van Atta said she and the girls were “exhausted” by the end of the match, noting that the team, which is usually strong on serves, “made more serving errors than I’ve seen in ages.”
“A lot of it was due to butterflies. They’re young, after all,” she said of her squad, which contains no seniors.
Hatteras, seeded No. 7 in the playoffs, is next slated to play No. 10 seed Camden on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills. Last year, Camden sent Hatteras out of the playoffs, but Van Atta noted that playing at First Flight is like “being home.”
Of course, since Hurricane Dorian blasted Cape Hatteras in September, “home” has been a relative term for the Lady ‘Canes.
Saturday’s match was held in the gym at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, as the secondary school’s gym, along with its athletic fields and numerous classrooms, was severely damaged in the hurricane. Since Dorian, the ‘Canes have been practicing at the elementary school and at the Fessenden Center in Buxton.
On Saturday night, there were hardly enough seats to accommodate the spectators, which included families of both teams and numerous high school and middle school students.
Also in the stands was Dr. Howard M. Ruderfer, known familiarly as Dr. Rudy, a local family chiropractor who often sees the ‘Canes for sports-related ailments. Noting the overflowing bleachers and enthusiastic fans, Dr. Rudy remarked that “Volleyball is basically the biggest thing on Hatteras right now.”
The match certainly didn’t fail to be entertaining. All four sets were closely contested, with the first set seeing the ‘Canes and the Eagles battling for control and advantage at match point. Hatteras ended up dropping the first set, 25-27.
The Eagles had more size than the ‘Canes, who have a number of players at or under 5’5”. The Eagles played a very good net game, blocking many balls and sending several hard spikes just out of the ‘Canes’ reach. Particularly impressive was Rosewood’s Miyah McCall.
The Eagles were hampered, however, by several mistakes caused by lack of communication. Hatteras generally communicated well, although its players were sometimes unable to reach Rosewood’s well-aimed hits to the back line and the corners.
Although Hatteras’ success was certainly a team effort, several players stood out. Yoselyn Gabriel and Rubie Shoemaker made several amazing plays throughout that elicited roars from the crowd. Felicity Quidley also did not disappoint, making impressive dives to keep the ball in play for Hatteras.
Though only a freshman, Grace Shoemaker, sister of Rubie, pitched in with a block at the net in the third set and a great hit to the back of the court in the fourth set that gave Hatteras the advantage it needed.
After losing the first set, the ‘Canes won all subsequent sets, but only truly dominated in the second, which they won 25-18. They took a hard-fought third set, 27-25.
The fourth and final set began inauspiciously for the ‘Canes, but a string of excellent plays brought them up 18-15, and then to 23-20. Cheered on by screams of “Let’s go, Hatteras!” and foot-stomping from the crowd, the ‘Canes never gave up another point, winning 25-20.
As always, Van Atta was proud of her girls. When play got difficult, she said, “they never gave up.”