KNIGHTDALE — For three seniors on the Knightdale girls’ volleyball team, Tuesday’s 3-0 victory (25-21, 25-13, 25-16) over Rolesville was the final time they would compete on their home court, sporting their school’s colors – sort of.
The Knights (8-9, 7-5) were clad all in pink for their win over the Rams (0-18, 0-13), ditching their usual black and gold in order to raise awareness for breast cancer. Tuesday was also senior night for Knightdale, yet – even among the pomp and circumstance of two events mashed into one – the Knights sustained enough focus to pull off a successful three-set sweep over the young squadfrom Rolesville.
“We only had one home game in October, so we had to combine senior night and pink-out,” Knightdale head coach Anna Gay said after the game. “We hope to make (breast cancer awareness) a larger part of our program next year.”
“Beating Rolesville gets us where we need to be,” senior Persia Brown said, placing the emphasis squarely on her team’s win rather than the “pink-out” or the fact that Brown and two of her senior teammates were honored before their final home contest.
If the Knights were at all distracted by all the goings-on, it only showed briefly in the first set. After relinquishing a significant lead due in large part to a 7-0 Rams run, Rolesville tied the set at 21 all.
Gay called a timeout, allowing her Knights a moment to regroup. She reminded the team what was at stake.
“It was just a matter of saying, ‘Hey, this is our last home game. It’s senior night. Let’s go out with a bang,’” Gay said. “We really weren’t playing very clean, we weren’t playing our best.”
Upon returning to the floor, the Knights claimed the final four points of the first set, winning 25-21. They carried that momentum in sets two and three, both of which were more lopsided than their 25-13 and 25-16 scores indicated.
“Our seniors came out swinging,” Gay said, referring to Brown’s vicious strikes after the timeout, as well as those of fellow seniors Sydney Hart and Chelsea Jones. “I think that was their purpose. ‘This is senior night, I’m going to go down swinging.’ They definitely brought it tonight.”
The shots rained down on Rolesville, as the Rams struggled to string even a few points together against Knightdale’s staunch seniors and their teammates. Hart had a saying specifically crafted for this phenomenon.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Hart explained. “That’s what we’re all about.”
The three seniors, however, form the indisputable heart of these Knights.
“We’ve been together since freshman year. We have that kind of connection,” said Hart.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Jones added. “The whole team wanted the win to make our (the seniors’) night special.”
The Rams, who are comprised of mostly freshman, see the Knights as a team in which they aspire to be like in coming seasons.
“Overall, I think (the Knights) look better than they did last year,” Rams head coach Tosha Pullen said. “I’m very pleased with my team … in four years, or maybe next year, it’s going to be a different story.”
But until then, the Knights will enjoy their pinked-out senior night sweep over Rolesville.