For a team that was two sets away from playing for the 3A state championship last season, 2016 hasn’t started the way Cedar Ridge expected.

After going 24-4, the Red Wolves had a rough summer. Coach Charlie Oakley resigned after getting married. Seniors Asha Barnes and Courtney Eckmann graduated. There were other vital parts to last year’s team that were expected back, but opted not to play this season.

That led to a predictable difficult start against the rigorous competition in Orange County, namely 2A state title contender Carrboro, who has demolished everything in its path so far, even periennial power Cardinal Gibbons.

After an 1-6 start, the Red Wolves needed something big in its conference opener. And they got it from a senior co-captain against their arch rival on Thursday night.

Kayla Robinette served on five consecutive points, notching two aces and a block during that span as the Red Wolves defeated Orange 3-1 on Thursday night on scores of 25-21, 24-26, 25-17 and 25-21.

Sophomore Juliann De Jesus killed match point to send the crowded gym into a frenzy as the Red Wolves defeated their crosstown rival for the 7th consecutive time.

De Jesus finished with nine kills. Sophomore Macy Henry finished with 17 assists, including match point. Alexis Dumain had 15 assists while Sarah McCluston had three solo blocks.

The victory was the 2nd for Laura Fortner as the Red Wolves’ head coach.

The Panthers fall to 1-5.

Orange captured a back-and-forth 2nd set. They jumped out 9-2 behind seven consecutive points, all of which came on the service of Macy Hughes, who had two aces during the run. CRHS jumped back to tie at 14 following a kill by Robinette off an assist by Henry.

Orange jumped back to force three set points after a Jordan Lloyd kill made the score 24-21, yet Cedar Ridge scored three consecutive points to tie. The Panthers Mileah Shriner scored set point to even the match.

Cedar Ridge won the final two sets. In the third, the Red Wolves jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never led by less than four points from that point forward. They pushed the advantage out to 23-14 before Robinette scored an ace to win the set.

Cedar Ridge travels to Northern Vance next Tuesday and hosts Southern Durham on Thursday. Orange has two home games next week. They face Graham on Tuesday, followed by Northern Vance on Thursday.

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