Pat Spikers Top Ashley; Advance to Second Round of States
Leading 22-17 against Ashley in the first set of Saturday’s first round 4A state playoff volleyball match, the hitting that got Pinecrest the lead was replaced by tips and push passes.
The Screaming Eagles from Wilmington sent the soft stuff right back at the Patriots and grabbed a 26-24 victory.
“We didn’t swing the first game,” Patriot coach Barbara Foxx said afterward. “When they get a little tense they don’t swing.”
The first game lapse reminded outside hitter Uniqwa Morrison of Wednesday's conference tournament championship final against Scotland County when a Scot comeback in the third set turned the tide against the Patriots.
"It was like we have to get up," she said. "We can't let our attitudes and heads get us down. We just have to step it up and get back our momentum."
Things changed quickly in the second game of the matinee affair that began with Addy George putting one down off a set by Megan Thomas. The swinging continued. George and Morrison combined for six more kills as the Patriots extended their lead to 12-3.
The Patriots (23-6) won that set and the next two, advancing to the second round with a 24-26, 25-15, 25-14 and 25-20 victory. They are scheduled to travel to Garner (19-4), a 3-1 winner over Pine Forest, on Tuesday.
Struggling early against the hard serves delivered by the Eagles, the Patriots began making better passes as the match progressed.
“It all starts with the pass,” George said. “Throughout the week we’ve been practicing a lot of serve receive. We’ve been having the coaches serve various types of serves to different places, short and deep. We worked on it a lot so we could get into our system and put the ball down.”
Felicia Painter had a pair of kills as Mollie Maples was serving for seven points in a row in the one-sided third set. That one ended with George slamming one down off another assist from Thomas.
There was plenty of bump, set and kill action in the decisive fourth set with Callie Boone and Keegan Lynch doing most of the setting. But midway through it, the Eagles out-scored the Pats 8-1 to burst into a 16-10 lead.
Boone set up Morrison and George for the kills that stopped the bleeding. Janea Williams then served for four points in a row. A moment later, George was the beneficiary of two more assists from Lynch for the kills that provided the home team with some breathing room at 23-20.
“I can trust her that if I put it out there, she’ll put it down,” Lynch said.
The match ended without further drama on a service error and a ball hit into the net by the visitors, now 9-9 on the season.
George finished up with 20 kills and 13 digs in the match that featured many long rallies. Morrison had 10 kills and Williams added six to go with four blocks. The assist leaders were Lynch and Thomas with 16 and 13 respectively.
The Patriots did not commit a service error until early in the fourth set. George and Ashleigh Welton each served for 15 points, and Maples served for a dozen. The four service points by Ashleigh McKenzie included three aces.
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