Albemarle School’s Samantha Nixon (second right) during a high school volleyball match against Northeast Academy, Thursday at Albemarle School.

Strong service runs and excellent team communication set the tone as the Albemarle School Volleyball team defeated Northeast Academy by scores of 25-8, 18-25, 25-11, and 25-7 Thursday night to earn their third victory of the season.

The match was played at the home gymnasium of the Lady Colts in Elizabeth City, and although the virus protocol limited the number of spectators, it did not limit the effort and enthusiasm of the players on both teams.

Albemarle started a little slowly in the first game as the teams traded points. With the score 7-5 in favor of the Colts, Miranda Parker toed the service line for Albemarle and held service for 11 straight points, pushing the advantage to 18-5 in favor of the home team. The sophomore’s hard overhand jump serves were difficult for the Eagles to return. She scored five aces in the run, that were sandwiched around three spike winners by Samantha Nixon. Northeastern could not recover from the Albemarle run, and Ava Morris closed out the first game with a strong spike at the net.

The Colts continued their strong play well into the second set. Maci Higgins took her turn to attack from the service line and contributed two aces in a six point run which gave Albemarle the lead at 8-1. The Colts were coasting at 15-7 when the competitive Eagles made a run of their own. Taking the serve for Northeast was lefthanded Leah McDermott. Whether it was a different spin, or angle, the Colts struggled to return her serves or set up their attack. Northeast scored nine straight points to put the Eagles in front 16-15.

The momentum in the match had flipped. Senior frontline player Kathryn Long had five winners, on placements and spikes, to lead the Eagles down the stretch as they would take the second set 25-18 and even the match.

Before the start of the third game, Albemarle coach Nicole Delosreyes had a strong heart to heart with her team to get them to re-focus. “I told them we had to start communicating better with the ball in the air, that we couldn’t get down, but get back up and encourage each other. We needed to get back to better setting so we could attack at the net.”

Although the Eagles now had confidence from the second set win, you could tell the Colts were playing with a renewed confidence. You could hear them calling for the ball and communicating from up in the stands. The bump passes of Brianna Bonnell and Monique Guzman-Torres were crisp, and every player was going all out on every ball.

With the game at 7-6 Albemarle, Miranda Parker again took the service, and scored three aces in the next four points. Nixon had a kill shot, and Morris a punch placement as the Colts widened their lead to 13-6. Albemarle maintained their advantage the rest of the game. They did not let up on defense, forced Eagle mistakes, and took the third set 25-11.

The final game had the Colts in complete control. They again had strong attacking serves that resulted in quick points. Nixon had her best service run with eight straight points to start the set. Morris also had an eight point run to give the Colts an insurmountable lead at 22-3. Appropriately, Albemarle would close out the set, and match, with a service ace by Sylvia Jennings.

“We work on our serving every day in practice, and it payed off,” said coach Delosreyes. “We work on getting the first couple of serves in, and then putting more power into the serves as the player gets into the repetition, and more comfortable. Our service game really helped our entire game tonight.”