In the rafters and on the walls of Cedar Ridge’s gym hang several banners with accolades of past volleyball teams ranging from conference championships to names of All-Conference players.
On the opening night of her second season as head coach for Cedar Ridge, Anna Seethaler saw her team display the talent it takes to continue adding to those banners as the Red Wolves defeated Eastern Alamance in three sets, 25-8, 25-14 and 25-14.
“Honestly, I just felt like everybody really pulled their weight. It was an equal distribution of talent tonight,” Seethaler said. “We were consistent. Sometimes it’s easy if we’re playing a team that isn’t as experienced that we tend to drop down in our level of play, but they stayed really consistent.”
The opening set was a quick one, with Cedar Ridge jumping out to an early 15-5 lead before the Eagles were forced to call a timeout and regroup. Cedar Ridge returned from the break to close out the set on a 10-3 run, causing the Eastern Alamance players to become visibly frustrated.
However, the Eagles showed signs of improvement in the second set. Mental mistakes by the Red Wolves that led to a dispute about a point coming from a rotation error combined with some powerful attacks by Ashleigh Taylor helped Eastern Alamance jump out to an early 3-1 lead.
“I had a senior play middle that usually doesn’t play middle for me, Ashleigh Taylor,” Eastern Alamance head coach Rebecca Wood said. “I felt like she did a heck of a job today because I’ve been running her right side so I had to play her in a different position today to try to figure out what was going to get us through this game. I would say she’s my MVP of this game.”
It didn’t take long after that for Cedar Ridge to regain its composure, race ahead to a 13-7 lead and force the Eagles to call another timeout.
The Red Wolves emerged from the timeout ready to secure a win for the night. Seethaler sets goals for her team before every game and one of this game’s goals was to focus on giving hard serves.
Freshman Cameron Lloyd pounded a vicious serve to the opposition shortly after the break was over and Eastern Alamance had no chance of returning it.
“Julie (Altieri) and Cameron both did really well with their serves tonight,” Seethaler said. “They weren’t afraid to go back and hit hard.”
Altieri and Lloyd combined for 15 service aces and just two service errors on the night.
Cedar Ridge closed out the second set on a 12-7 run to clinch the second-set victory and head into what would be the final set of the evening.
For the majority of the night, a large portion of the times the Red Wolves conceded points was due to mistakes by themselves rather than successful attacks by the Eagles. The third set was no different as the first point by Eastern Alamance was off a service error by Cedar Ridge.
Despite that, the Red Wolves were able to continue their strong performance and win the final set, 25-14, thanks to some great sets across the net by Altieri and ShiLi Quade. Junior Layne Foster also had a strong performance on the night, finishing the evening with seven service assists.
Starting the season off with a win was important for Seethaler. In her second season as the Cedar Ridge head coach, she is looking to take what she learned from last year and use it to improve her young squad this year, hopefully forcing the school to update the gym’s banners.
“It all comes back to fundamentals, getting together as a team, being united and having similar goals to move towards together. We worked hard on that my first season, but when you come into a team that’s unfamiliar to you and you’re unfamiliar to them, you really have to work hard to create the unity that needs to exist to have a solid team,” Seethaler said. “I expect everybody really to step up and lead. We have all different talents, abilities and gifts and they’re needed at different times. We’re just really focused on our team effort this year.”