With Durham’s strength in the middle, it was imperative that the East Nicolaus High girls volleyball team stay aggressive at the net and in the backrow Thursday night against the visiting Trojans. 

The Spartans withstood many Durham runs, even added a few of their own, to topple their Northern Section Division V playoff foe in four sets 25-19, 28-26, 21-25, 25-14. 

Senior middle Savannah Price answered many of Durham’s punches in the middle with eight kills, while Brynn Lauppe tallied 15 kills and 17 digs to lead East Nicolaus (12-7, 6-1 Mid Valley League). 

“We had to play more aggressive tonight,” East Nicolaus coach Ashley Anderson said. “It came down to tough serving and being able to swing at the ball rather than sending free balls over.” 

One of the defining moments for East Nicolaus was in the second set when it trailed 24-21, but proceeded to take seven of the following nine points to win the set 28-26 and go up 2-0 in the match. 

 Price had a kill and block during the run to stabilize the team the final stages of the second as Durham was countering seemingly every punch with a blow from junior middle Karena Bryant. 

Bryant, who finished with 32 kills, paced the Trojans (14-13, 3-4) all night in the middle. 

Despite dropping the third set, East Nicolaus answered in the fourth by jumping out to the early lead and winning 15 of the final 22 points to pull away from Durham in the close-out set, 25-14. 

Shaye Wininger dished out 24 assists to the Spartan hitters. 

At last check Thursday, East Nicolaus led second place Hamilton by two games in the MVL standings with two matches to play. 

East Nicolaus wraps up its home regular season schedule Tuesday against Williams.

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