With senior captain Maya Dulli-Ray out with an elbow injury, the Lady Pirates lost 3-0 to Northern Durham on Tuesday.
“She’s kind of like the glue player in addition to being the most talented player,” head coach Michael Hodge said. “Maya is a primary role player. Everything we do in winning and losing, it’s tied to her. And without her, it became a struggle.”
Riverside started the first set up 4-1, then Northern went on a hot streak to give them the lead 15-8. The Lady Pirates had just implemented a new defense and weren’t fully acclimated, which led to a long run by Northern.
Riverside stayed in the rest of the set, matching Northern point to point, but it was too late. Northern took the first set 25-16, with a very fast offense that the Pirates just could not keep up with.
The second set started well with Lauren Powrie, a sophomore outside hitter, earning Riverside multiple points with her play. But after going down 6-10, Riverside went on a cold streak.
“Our Achilles heel is passing the ball,” Hodge said “When we pass the ball to the target so that the setter can run the offense, things go a lot better. Tonight, we struggled a lot. We had probably 15 or 20 passing errors, which took us out of our rhythm.”
Riverside then went down 8-17. Several strong plays helped narrow the gap, but, but it wasn’t enough.
After dropping the second set 25-15, Riverside again started the third set strong. Trailing by only three, early on, the defense allowed 10 points while only scoring one, giving Northern a 16-4 lead.
As the third set continued, the Pirates couldn’t overcome the large deficit and fell to Northern 25-11. Without their star, the Pirates were missing a piece that they could not fill, and that led to a 3-0 sweep by Northern.
On the other hand, Lauren Powrie stepped up and played well in the absence of Dulli-Ray, and earned Player of the Game. She had very consistent hits and had several cross-court shots, helping the team keep pace with Northern.
“I think defense is a big thing for our team,” Powrie said. “We just moved to a new defense a couple weeks ago. But as we keep doing it, we’re getting better.”