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Red Rams charge through competition

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FRANKLINTON — Franklinton’s volleyball team has picked up where they left off the past couple of years by adding to their dominant 3A Big East conference win streak. The Red Rams swept Fike 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-10) at home Tuesday. Franklinton jumped ahead to a 10-5 lead in the first set. The Red Rams extended that advantage to 19-10 and then finished off their opponents 25-16 after a spike from Sarah Dodrill. In the second set, Franklinton started out 11-6. However, Fike kept themselves in the game, not letting the Red Rams pull off a run. The score stayed close for the majority of the game. Franklinton never went ahead by more than five points, but they still finished with a 25-20 win after a spike from McKenzie Hill. In the third and final set, Franklinton dominated from start to finish. The Red Rams took an early 16-4 advantage and crusied to an easy 25-10 victory after Fike hit the ball into the net. Franklinton head coach Tom Harris said his girls struggled in the first two sets, but then started playing their game in the third set to finish the night strong. “I thought we played decent in the first set, but our blocking was off a little bit,” Harris said. “In the second set, we were very sloppy and had some missed serves. Blocking came out strong in the third set and we started hitting. We executed our plays. We only had one bad serve that entire set. We started doing things we’re supposed to.” Even though Fike dropped to a 3-13 overall record, Harris praised the team for putting up a good effort. The Demons are now 3-3 in the Big East conference. Fike lost to Franklinton 3-1 Sept. 12.

“Fike is a good team, but they just have a lot of injuries,” Harris said. “They gave us a tough run earlier this season. They have four or five girls out with injury tonight.” Franklinton had a host of players who contributed to the conference win. De’Nyla Harlan leads the conference as a freshman with 131 kills. Rebekah Smith is right behind her with 120 kills and leads the Big East with 139 blocks. McKenzie Hill also has 120 kills this season, as well as 191 digs and 18 aces. Denise Burk leads the conference with 454 assists and leads the team with 33 aces. Shelby Sykora is first in digs for the Red Rams with 289. “We have conference leaders in just about every stat on our team right now,” Harris said. “Denise Burk leads the conference in assists. Rebekah Smith leads the conference in blocks. We have the top three hitters in the conference with McKenzie Hill, De’Nyla Harlan and Smith. Shelby Sykora has been there for us defensively as our libero. We have a lot of good contributors on this team.” With the win, Franklinton improved to 14-1 overall and 7-0 in Big East conference play. The Red Rams haven’t lost a conference match since they lost to Bunn 3-2 Oct. 18, 2016. Franklinton has also won 11 matches in a row. Their last loss was to Leesville Road, a 4A squad who beat them 3-1 at home Aug. 28. “We only dropped one to Leesville Road,” Harris said. “Sometimes you have to lose to know that you hate losing. It’s nice to ride a win streak now, but we can’t lose sight.” Franklinton will play West Johnston at home Monday Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. The Red Rams will continue conference play at Hunt Wednesday Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. “We have to play every game as it comes,” Harris said. “We cannot take anyone for granted. As soon as you do and become overconfident, you get beat. We have dominated this conference over the past couple of years, but teams are getting better. We have to play better to stay ahead of that curve. We’ve had some good matches in this conference season.”