Rockets rout Eagles in three

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The Eastern Alamance High School volleyball team was feeling pretty good after the first two points against heavily-favored Person.

A couple of vicious swings by Rocket middle Karoline Cox and a huge run was all that the home team needed to get in gear as Person rolled from there to a three-set victory (25-7, 25-13, 25-21) Thursday.

Person is now 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-State Conference heading into Tuesday’s matchup with Western Alamance (6-1, 2-0). Person opened the week by dismantling winless Morehead on the road (25-13, 25-9, 25-10) a handful of days after suffering its first loss of the season at Orange.

Rockets’ coach Amanda Ramirez thought her team responded well from the early-season setback.

“Nobody likes to lose, but we certainly didn’t like the way that we lost,” Ramirez said. “That was not Rocket volleyball at all. Tuesday, we didn’t really get the chance to come back and show it. We were able to run a bunch of stuff and get all of the girls in, but we weren’t pushed. This was more of a test and an opportunity to build back our confidence. I’m expecting that to roll over to next week.”

The Rockets got rolling early in Thursday’s win.

Eastern Alamance won the first two points of the match, but the Rockets answered with back-to-back kills by Cox, one on a quick set by Lillie Davis and the next on a wide-open slide with no block in front of her.

That ignited a 13-0 run, that included four aces from defensive specialist Mariah McCowan. By the time the Eagles burned their second timeout, they were down 13-2 and Person coasted to any easy opening set win.

The Rockets followed that with a comfortable win the second set.

“We came out strong and our serving was just dialed in,” Ramirez said. “We kept them very much out of system. I feel like we just took charge in the entire aspect of the game. We were able to get hitters the ball where they needed and our hitters were disciplined enough to stay off the net and keep the ball in front of them.”

Eastern Alamance threatened to make its stay a little longer in Roxboro and used a 6-0 run in the late stages to lead 20-17.

Person answered with four straight points on aggressive serves from Kelcey Mangum to take a 21-20 advantage. The Eagles tied the set at 21-all, but Person finished off the match by the winning the final four points, highlighted by a kill and a block from Cox.

Emma Duncan paced the Rockets’ attack with 10 kills, her fourth match in a row with at least nine. The junior outside hitter was a frequent target throughout the match.

“Emma was solid tonight,” Ramirez said. “We talked a lot at practice about our setter-outside connection because I just don’t think it’s been there consistently. It’s been hit or miss. Emma was a really solid outlet. In practice, she was working certain shots and she’s understanding the difference between a ball where she needs to put it down and one where she needs to place in good spots. She didn’t hit the same ball over and over again. She did a great job mixing it up.”

Cox finished with seven kills and two blocks after a 14 kill performance Tuesday at Morehead.

Madison Dunkley chipped in five kills, while Aaliyah Jones added four kills and Brianna Ramsey pitched in three.

McCowan led a strong effort from the Rockets on the serving line with seven aces. As a team, Person finished with 15.

Person will be back home Thursday when it challenges Northern Guilford in a key Mid-State matchup.

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