BUXTON – Cape Hatteras gained strength quickly and proved too powerful for North Duplin on Saturday afternoon.
Yoselyn Gabriel and Lily Ratliff combined for 24 kills to lead the Hurricanes past the Rebels 25-8, 25-14, 25-17 in opening-round play of the NC High School Athletic Association 1A volleyball playoffs.
“Cape Hatteras is a very talented team and I don’t think we’ve played that caliber of offense that they have, so it took our girls a set to adjust,” said Rebels head coach Heather Best. “But after the nerves settled and we saw we could compete with them, we settled down and played. They are just very strong [hitters] … good placement of tips and very good defensive coverage so we struggled to get a down ball [offensively].”
The fourth-seeded Hurricanes cranked out 41 kills and hit an impressive .416 as a team. They committed just four errors, including a combined two from Ratliff and Gabriel.
The Rebels, seeded 29th in the east bracket, collected 13 kills.
Freshman Addy Higginbotham, the reigning Tribune co-athlete of the week from North Duplin, pounded out a team-high six kills, served an ace and supplied two digs.
Reece Outlaw contributed five kills, one ace and one dig.
As a team, North Duplin compiled 22 digs – including eight from Kasey Jones and three apiece from Logan Jones and Starr Jaco.
“We were able to slow down some of their hitters with our blocking [from Madison Holmes],” Best said. “Reece and Addy were able to break through their defense in some good hit placement.”
Holmes supplied a team-high four blocks.
Jaco dished out six assists for the Rebels, who last reached the postseason in 2019 and have made just four appearances overall since 2014.
Bailey Hinnant (one kill, one ace, one dig), Morgan McCoy (one kill, two blocks) and Eva Quintanilla (one block) also had marks on the stat sheet.
The Atlantic Five champ, Cape Hatteras (16-3 overall) picked up its 14th three-set sweep of the season. The Hurricanes entertain traditional power Roxboro Community in round two.
“I look at the playoffs, especially one this distance away, as an opportunity for our team to have a truly amazing road trip and experience,” Best said. “We took the girls to the lighthouse where they even saw a proposal [which they loved] and just [had] a chance to be a team off the court with no pressure.
“It was a great team bonding experience and I think the girls that went really enjoyed themselves. [There] was lots of laughter, singing on the bus and some crying in the end.”
Four ND seniors played their final match — Logan Jones, Hinnant, Jaco and McCoy. The Rebels concluded the year 9-10 overall.