After two years of being a veteran team with no size, Rocky Mount High finally has height.
The trade-off was experience.
The young Gryphons still are trying to find themselves on the court, and games like Tuesday – a 3-0 home loss to Wilson Fike – are part of the progression for an inexperienced team.
“We have a younger team,” Rocky Mount senior Destini Parker said. “We have four returners, so it’s kind of hard to know where to go, where not to go and get used to everybody playing with each other.”
Rocky Mount (1-12, 0-3 Big East Conference) struggled in the first two sets as the first-place Golden Demons (3-0 Big East) made it pay for most mistakes.
The Gryphons had trouble setting up their offense as miscommunications cost them several points. The Gryphons left the middle of the court open far too frequently, and Fike took full advantage of a young Rocky Mount front line.
The Golden Demons ran off eight of the final 10 points to take the first set, 25-15, and won 10 of the final 11 points in the second set to win, 25-13.
“It’s nice having (height), but you take some in the gut because we’ve got such a young team,” Rocky Mount coach Tabitha Wilcox said. “The tallest ones I got are my youngest for the most part.”
Rocky Mount looked like a new team in the third set. The Gryphons found organization, sewed up their defense and hit punch-for-punch with Fike until the Demons went on a 6-0 run midway through the set, eventually winning, 25-21.
Wilcox inserted Natalya Cannie into the game before the third set, and Wilcox thought the sophomore was the difference.
“She could see what was going on in the second set, and she brought it to the table in the third set,” Wilcox said of Cannie. “I really feel like she stepped up her game and started to be a leader on the court.”
Whereas Rocky Mount looked defenseless at times in the first two sets, it took solace in the fact it hung with one of the Big East’s top teams.
“We’re developing. We’re using the building blocks to progress for next year,” senior Madison Sides said. “We don’t have that many seniors, but when we get together and work together and learn how to play together, it looks a lot better.”
The one thing Rocky Mount needs is time. Even though its record hasn’t indicated progress, the players feel the team is improving with each passing game.
“I think the relationships we build with every game get a lot better,” Sides said. “The dynamics get better, we get more used to each other, so every single game we play, we progress.”
Wilson Fike 3
Rocky Mount High 0
25-15, 25-13, 25-21
RMH Leaders: Tiara Hinton 10 kills, 6 blocks; Destini Parker 14 kills; Madison Sides 23 assists; Haley Coppedge 18 asissts; Shannon Rolfe 3 digs.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz