Julie Altieri

Freshman Julie Altieri (5) rises up to hit the ball in Cedar Ridge's win against Eastern Alamance on Thursday night in Mebane.

Cedar Ridge continued its winning ways in volleyball Thursday evening by traveling to Mebane and defeating Eastern Alamance in three sets. 

Head coach Anna Seethaler has the Red Wolves rolling early on this season, as the victory over Eastern Alamance improved CRHS’s overall record to 5-0. Along with a pair of sweeps over the Eagles in Hillsborough and Mebane, CRHS also took a pair of four-set victories over Durham School of the Arts, sandwiched around a road victory, also in four sets, at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in late August. 

The Red Wolves have been led by an impressive group of freshman standouts, including Cameron Lanier, Cameron Lloyd, and Julie Altieri. The Red Wolves balance out the youthful talent with an experienced veteran nucleus that includes seniors Emma Downing, Celeste Pasley, Cailyn Thornton, and Victoria Dalehite, alone with juniors SahLi Quade, Layne Foster, Marlee Rakouskas, and Haylee Cothran. 

CRHS took command of the opening set early against Eastern Alamance and won it 25-13, with Quade dropping a serve on set point that bounced around and wasn’t returned by the Eagles. 

Eastern got off to a better start in the second set, taking an early 4-3 lead following a spike by Loren Crabbe. But Lanier followed that up with a spike for Cedar Ridge, followed by a soft drop shot by Altieri that lofted over Eastern’s front line and fell behind them. 

The Eagles tied the set 6-6 following a nice serve by Ryan Foy, and a hard spike by Kamari Mims pulled Eastern within 8-7. Lloyd and Altieri points for the Red Wolves helped the visitors break ahead 13-8, but Eastern climbed back with a block by Tanyla Smith, and two service points by Ashleigh Taylor.

Eastern got as close as 16-15 in the second set, but the Red Wolves eventually wore them down. Following a long volley, in which both teams made a series of nice plays to get the ball over the net, Pasley got a huge block for the Red Wolves, which stemmed Eastern’s momentum and re-gave service to CRHS leading, 17-15. 

A Crabbe spike attempt for the Eagles went out of bounds, and Pasley and Altieri came through with another Cedar Ridge block, which ultimately led to a put-away by Altieri and a 19-15 Red Wolves lead. 

Eastern continued to fight, engaging in another long volley with the taller Cedar Ridge youngsters. But with Quade on serve for the Red Wolves, Lanier and Pasley came through with more defensive stoppages, blocking another Eastern attempt. 

With CRHS leading, 21-15, Eastern’s Reagan Harley came through with a brilliant diving reception on a Red Wolves serve, which Cedar Ridge spiked into its own net. Eastern got within four points at 21-17, but a big spike by Lanier on another long volley slammed the door. Another spike by Lloyd and a nice return by Altieri led to set point, in which Marlee Rakouskas came through with a full-extension diving dig, leading up to a finish by Quade. The Red Wolves won the second set, 25-20. 

The Red Wolves came out with a decisive flurry of spikes and defensive stops in the third set, building a 9-1 lead. Altieri fired an ace to give CRHS an early 5-0 cushion, while a spike by Lloyd, and blocks by Pasley and Lanier, also helped build up the advantage. The lead continued to build, as Lanier got a couple service points and Downing and Lloyd blocked a spike attempt by Eastern’s Loren Crabbe. It was soon 18-8 in favor of the Red Wolves. 

Eastern did not give up, fighting relentlessly to get back within striking distance. With Maddie Lawson serving for the Eagles, EAHS racked up five straight points to get within 18-13. 

The Eagles and Red Wolves then engaged in arguably the best point of the day - a back-and-forth marathon with numerous key saves, lunging returns, and spike attempts. The Eagles fought hard, but a lunging return over the net by Mims went just out to the left of the baseline. 

Cedar Ridge would finish off the match by getting the set’s final six points following the intense battle on the 18-13 point. Tired, and with the wind seemingly out of their sails following the lost point, the Eagles fell apart down the stretch, with Pasley, Lloyd, and Quade spiking home winners for CRHS to build the lead to 24-13, and a hard spike by Lanier winning it, 25-13. 

The unbeaten Red Wolves return to action next week, as they’ll open play in the Big 8 Conference with a road match at Northwood in Pittsboro on Thursday, Sept. 5.