RALEIGH – Hough High’s volleyball program is in its fourth year, an infancy compared to many longtime schools. The Huskies didn’t take long to reach the elite level statewide, but fell just short of the ultimate prize Nov. 2.
Hough lost to Raleigh Wakefield 22-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22 in the N.C. 4A championship match at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum. It was the first trip to the state final for both schools.
“It was a heck of a match, I think (Wakefield) was a little better than us tonight,” Hough coach Sandi Skidmore said. “They had a couple of girls we couldn’t slow down. We tried our best, but they were a handful. We gave it all we had but just didn’t have enough.”
Hough finished 32-2. The Huskies reached the final by beating Mount Tabor in the semifinal, which avenged its lone regular-season loss. Wakefield ended its season with a 25-2 record.
Many of the Huskies shed tears as they received runner-up medals and watched Wakefield celebrate its championship a few yards away.
Hough never overcame a slow start in the noisy arena. The Huskies weren’t sharp in the first two games. They missed spikes and blocks, and sent too many serves long or into the net. There were occasional spurts of two or three dominant points, but Wakefield’s consistency was the difference.
Wakefield jumped to a 7-3 lead in the first game, but Hough rallied to within 17-16. Wakefield won four straight points, followed by three straight Hough points. But Wakefield won the final three points, including the winner by outside hitter Darian Mack, for a 25-22 victory.
The second game was similar. Wakefield went ahead 9-7 and methodically stretched the lead to 18-3. Mack also ended that game with a booming spike. She was named the match’s Most Valuable Player and finished with 18 kills.
“I think we were a little scared in the beginning,” Skidmore said. “We played their game instead of our game.”
Hough, needing to win three straight games in the best-of-five series, played well to win the third game, 25-20. Outside hitter Julia Brown and middle hitter Jazmine Lindor dominated play at the net. Hough had the emotional jolt it needed.
But Wakefield, which had four players headed to NCAA Division I colleges, took control midway through the decisive fourth game. The Wolverines, leading 14-13, reeled off the next five points for a 19-13 lead. Hough closed to within 23-21, but got no closer.
Hough’s Lindor and Brown, who signed to play at N.C. State next year, had 10 kills each. Setter Jennifer Hart had 20 assists and 12 digs. Haley Kain added 10 digs and Maddie Lippy had six digs.
“It's disappointing to lose this game,” Skidmore said. “But the overall season, it's been a great season for the girls.”
Hough’s seniors went from being freshmen in the Huskies’ debut season to reaching the final eight in the state playoffs as sophomores, final four as juniors and the championship match as seniors.
“We played some very tough teams,” Skidmore said. “They have nothing to hang their heads about.”
Hough won the MECKA 4A conference championship with a 14-0 record and won the conference tournament. That was followed by playoff victories against Providence, McDowell, Ardrey Kell and Charlotte Catholic.