PC Honors Seniors With Win
At the end of Thursday's Senior Night for the Pinecrest volleyball team, junior Kaitlynn Pritchett paid teammates Arielle Fairley, Paige Horne and Kelly Lovely a high compliment.
"To me, they were a good inspiration," Pritchett said of the three seniors. "They get out there and it doesn't matter what happened at school or what's going on at practice. If you're down, they're going to get you up. That's all you can ask from seniors."
The Patriots had just defeated Hoke County 25-19, 25-13 and 25-22 for their fifth victory in their last six conference matches. They head into next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament as the third seed with a league record of 7-3 and a 10-9 overall mark.
Coach Barbara Foxx's squad will entertain Lumberton (0-10) in a 7 p.m. first-round match at home on Monday. The tournament continues with semifinal and championship matches on Tuesday and Wednesday at the court of the higher seed.
The three Patriot seniors along with junior Addy George were the only returning players from a year ago. This season's young squad sometimes included three freshmen starters in addition to other first-year varsity players like Pritchett, who contributed to the victory over Hoke with her hard serves.
The Patriot players received encouragement from 30 members of the Southern Middle School team that were on hand for Youth Night. It was also Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Members of the varsity and jayvee teams and many fans wore pink T-shirts in recognition of the occasion.
With Horne serving, the Patriots jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first game. Later, leading 18-17, a kill by junior Ashleigh McKenzie and three in a row by freshman Janea Williams helped put the game out of reach for the Bucks.
Horne and freshman Megan Thomas provided the sets as George and Williams pounded away in the one-sided second game. Hoke drew to within 23-22 in the final game before Horne set up George for the 24th point and then served for the 25th.
Defensive specialists Fairley and Love demonstrated what they do best, recording seven and six digs respectively. Horne, the team's leading server, was credited with 20 assists and four digs.
Also for the winners, George had 13 kills and seven digs, Williams contributed 10 kills and three blocks, freshman Felicia Painter had seven kills and Thomas was credited with 11 assists.
Told of Pritchett's comments about the seniors, Horne had some positive things to say about the first-year varsity players in return.
"We really had to help them in the beginning," she said, "but they caught on really fast. They worked hard in practice and wanted it for us. I'm glad everybody played so good for us tonight."
Another senior honored before the match was Patriot team manager Vessika Thibodeaux. Sitting on the bench were three former Patriots who have been serving as assistant coaches, Toni Douglas Boney (1994), Dawn Bright (1999) and Ashley Craven (2005). Also seated were Monique Jones (2006), who continues to help out at Patriot summer camps, and former team manager Rashad Covington (2007), who sang the National Anthem before the game.
"The senior class is always a special class," Foxx said. "We always hope they have a good year, and the supporting cast did a good job to make it a good year. The seniors are always a good influence, and they helped them get better each time out. I have a very good coaching staff and they have done a tremendous job getting the freshmen ready to play."
A topsy-turvy week in the conference included Pinecrest's sweep of second-place Richmond Senior on Tuesday. That put the Patriots in a position to tie the Raiders for second place and possibly gain a first-round home match in the state playoffs, assuming undefeated Scotland County beat Richmond on Thursday. But the Raiders pulled the upset in five sets, handing the Scots their first league loss in four years.
The Pinecrest jayvee team defeated Hoke 2-0 to finish 5-5 in the conference and 11-8 overall.
Final varsity conference standings: Scotland 9-1, Richmond 8-2, Pinecrest 7-3, Hoke 3-7, Purnell Swett 3-7 and Lumberton 0-10.
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