WCA volleyball rallies from 0-2 hole to earn seventh straight state title

Wilmington Christian Academy’s volleyball team has been dealing with adversity for more than a year after losing its home gym following Hurricane Florence.

Their resolve was on display Saturday afternoon in Graham, as the Patriots rallied from two sets down to earn a five-set victory over Berean Baptist Academy for their seventh straight NCCSA 2A title.

“We’ve been playing through adversity all season and it seems fitting that at the end we had to fight and battle back,” Patriots first-year coach Jenny Tyrpak said.

In her final high school match, senior Emily Mullinax had a double-double with 21 digs, 18 kills, two blocks and one ace. Freshman setter Kat Davis finished with 37 assists, 26 digs and a two blocks and Kyra Rickard put down 16 kills to go along with a pair of blocks.

Mullinax and Davis were named to the All-State Team and Rickard and Paige O’Shields were selected to the All-Region Team.

The dynasty nearly came to a close when BBA won the opening two sets 25-16 and 26-24. Instead of panicking, WCA (23-8) made the corrections it needed to and extended the match by taking the third set 25-22 and the fourth 25-23.

BBA jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the final set before the Patriots reeled off eight straight points, including seven on the serve of Lauren Longbottom. WCA won back-to-back points to earn a match point at 14-12 and freshman middle hitter Kenleigh Todd put down the final kill to set off a celebration.

“Part of the message during the timeouts was that we’ve been fighting all season and we aren’t going to give up now,” Tyrpak said. “The other part was that we’ve been here before and we know how to win a championship.”

Todd had four kills and three digs. Longbottom added 25 digs, two kills and one ace and Madison Sullivan had 20 digs and one ace. O’Shields chipped in 11 digs and four assists and Sam Malpass finished with five kills, three digs and one block.

The Patriots graduate five seniors – Mullinax, O’Shields, Sullivan Payton Giddings and Leah Myles.

“Our program has so much tradition and to have those five seniors grow up through our program and them have them finish with another championship was so cool,” Tyrpak said.