DURHAM — Over the past four years, North Raleigh Christian senior Britni Johnson has seen the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference turn into one of the top volleyball leagues in the state.
And her school has become the best of that league this year, a claim emphatically reinforced Friday night as NRCA topped Cary Academy for the TISAC tournament title to go along with the Knights’ regular-season title.
The Knights held off the Chargers 25-22, 23-25, 25-19 and 25-22 at Durham Academy.
“It’s been great. I mean, senior year, of course you want to win,” Johnson said. “Everyone has pushed through and had high energy.”
Cary Academy (21-9) had defeated 2-seed Ravenscroft to get to the final match, while North Raleigh Christian (23-5) had beaten 4-seed and semifinal and final host Durham Academy.
“As far as their communication, they’re working together and relying on one another,” said second-year varsity coach Chris Murray. “When one errs, the other is there to pick them up.”
One of the keys to North Raleigh Christian’s success this year has been its balanced lineup.
Johnson, a Mount Olive recruit, had 14 kills on Friday. Setter Shelby Raymond, a creative passer, had 10 kills of her own.
Qieara Lesesne had eight and Christa Wilson had nine.
“They did a great job of pushing sets to all of their hitters,” Cary Academy coach Melanie Bryant said.
NRCA also had 11 aces on the night.
“Volleyball is simple. It’s about controlling the ball and being smart and aggressive,” Bryant said. “And I think tonight we just had some off passing. We gave up a lot of points in serve receive early on.”
Cary Academy’s Moriah Smith had 10 kills, Abby Getz had nine, and Lauren McCoppin had eight to lead the Chargers. Smith also had 43 digs.
Katherine Carlton had 30 assists.
North Raleigh Christian and Cary Academy have played one another four times this year, with North Raleigh holding a 3-1 edge (the Chargers won a 2-1 weekend tournament game that counted as nonconference).
But the two are on a collision course again. Cary Academy is the 5-seed entering this week’s 3A N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs and a win away from playing 4-seed NRCA on Friday in the state quarterfinals.
The Knights’ claim as the best team in the TISAC will likely be put to the test one last time.
“This is a prayerful team,” Murray said. “They have gone to the Father and trusted in the gifts that He’s given us and they’ve just played with it. And they’ve had a blast doing it.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps