High Point bonds during playoff run -- Gazette.Net



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High Point High School libero Angeline Samuel says the Eagles’ girls volleyball team is like a family. Outside hitter Grace Biney says they’re like sisters. Both agree that’s the most important reason High Point made a run to the 4A South Region playoffs as the No. 4 seed, and why they defeated Parkdale on Monday.

“We’ve connected a lot,” Biney said. “We know each other’s strategy. We know how each other plays so we look toward that and that’s how we win. That’s how we play on the court every time.”

High Point is a young team lacking in experience. Its three seniors — Missy Camara, Christian Ramnath and Samuel — have each only played two years of volleyball but all contribute.

Camara is a reliable outside hitter and had seven kills during the 3-0 win against the Panthers. Ramnath is used primarily as a server.

Samuel, who didn’t play last season, set the tone for the defense against Parkdale, diving for any ball within her reach.

During one rally, she dove to save three spikes from Christina Oyawali, Parkdale’s towering middle hitter.

“She works hard,” High Point coach Shirley Diggs said. “She’s a very hard worker.”

The Eagles faced their fair share of adversity this season.

During a stretch in which they played DuVal, Charles H. Flowers and Bowie, Samuel and setter Erica Kittleson were out with injuries. Once the two returned to the lineup, the team had to reestablish itself in time for the playoffs.

“It was getting everyone back together before the end of the season,” Diggs said. “Once we got them back together they started gelling again.”

Biney looks back at the Laurel game as a turning point. In the five set match, the Eagles rallied in the fifth set to get the win.

“We didn’t think of it like, this is the last set and we’re going to lose,” the junior said. “We kept positive minds. We kept talking to each other and we won that game, which was really, really impressive.”

Diggs says the fate of the team has always been in the players’ hands.

“This team, they have to pull together themselves,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what I say. They have to pull together and they have to decide on their own. Are they going to show up and play or are they going to let down?”

Against the Panthers, High Point could have let down. But after falling behind in each set, it relied on its close bonds to pull together and get back on top by the end.

“We lift each other up,” Kittleson said. “When one person’s down, we try to pick them up so we all win. We didn’t let each other get down tonight. We wanted it so bad.”

cstevens@gazette.net