The Daily Record sports page will feature a new “Student-Athlete of the Week” series. Each week, The Record will recognize one local student-athlete for outstanding performance in their sport, as well as exemplary behavior in the classroom. We see this as an opportunity to show off some of the fantastic boys and girls in our community.
Heading into last Wednesday’s conference volleyball match against East Duplin, Midway desperately needed to win. The Raiders lost 3-0 on the Panthers’ court earlier in the season, which meant that a second loss would likely end Midway’s chance at winning a third consecutive conference championship.
That’s when senior Alyssa Wrench took her game to another level. Wrench racked up a career-high 29 kills and helped lead Midway to a 3-1 win over East Duplin. Her prior best had been 18 kills her junior year, also against the Panthers.
“Caitlyn [Holland] had some pretty good sets and my timing was on,” Wrench said. “[East Duplin’s] blocks, the way they set up — I caught on to that. If they set up more towards the inside of the court, then I’d go line, and if they were blocking the line, I’d change it and go cross court, so it was pretty easy once I caught on.”
Wrench is on pace to have the best season of her career. Each year she’s increased her kills per set. As a freshman she averaged 1.5, as a sophomore it went up to 2.1, as a junior up to 2.3, and this year she’s averaging 2.6 kills per set. She’s also dramatically increased her kill percentage. Last season she converted a solid 54.6 percent of her kill attempts, but this year she’s all the way up to 71.6 percent.
It’s no surprise Wrench has continued to improve over her career. Her mother Brandy, who is also the Midway volleyball head coach, sets an incredibly high standard.
“She’s really tough,” Wrench said. “Not just on the court, but off the court, too.”
The tough love has certainly reaped benefits though. Wrench is an outstanding volleyball player as well as a model student, as she sports a 3.7 GPA. Wrench stays busy with sports year-round. She plays basketball in the winters and softball in the springs. But she’ll tell you she’s a volleyball player first. As of now, her plan after high school is to attend East Carolina University and either study dental hygiene or physical therapy, but she’d love the opportunity to play at the next level.
“I’ve had colleges look at me, and I’ve honestly never really thought about those colleges,” Wrench said. “But if I do get a scholarship somewhere, I’d probably end up going there.”
In the meantime, Wrench is focused on finishing out her senior season strong. Midway won at James Kenan last Thursday and beat Goldsboro on the road Monday to put them at 10-3 on the season and 6-2 in East Central Conference play. East Duplin sits in first place with a 6-1 conference record but still has to play Clinton, who is 5-3 in conference. A pair of Clinton wins would give the Raiders a chance to claim their third consecutive conference title if they win out.
Regardless of how the conference standings shake out, Wrench thinks Midway can make a deep playoff run.
“If we play like we did against East Duplin, I feel like we’ll go pretty far,” Wrench said. “When I told my teammates what they can do better, they’d go and they’d fix it right away. If I’d tell them ‘hit it here’ or ‘push it here’ they’d do it, and it was like automatic points. We just need to get back there and focus, and we’re good.”
Below is a list of some of Alyssa’s favorite things, as well as her ideal celebrity dinner guest and who she’d want with her to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Favorite Movie: “The Shack”
Favorite TV Show: “Friends”
Favorite Band/Artist: Luke Combs
Favorite Song: “Dive” (Luke Combs version)
Favorite Team: UNC
Favorite Subject: English
Favorite Food: Lasagna
Favorite Restaurant: Luigi’s
Favorite Sports Memory: “Last year beating East Duplin in volleyball.”
Favorite Teacher: Karen Collier
Favorite Sport: Volleyball
Ideal Celebrity Dinner Guest: Selena Gomez
Ideal Group to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse: Erin Barefoot, Alexis Jackson and Karlee Martin