Patriots Reach Finals of League Volleyball Tournament
Defeated in three of its previous five matches, the Pinecrest volleyball team came out swinging in Tuesday’s Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal match against Purnell Swett.
The Patriots (19-7) swept a Ram squad that defeated them a week earlier 25-23, 25-13 and 25-18 to move into this evening’s 6 p.m. championship match against Scotland High (19-0). The Scots beat Hoke County 25-17, 25-10 and 25-18 in the other semi.
Coach Barbara Foxx’s second-seeded squad is scheduled to entertain South View (13-8), the third seed from the Mid-South, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday in a 4-A state playoffs first-round match.
“We wanted this game and we want to beat Scotland in the championship,” Patriot middle blocker Felicia Painter said afterward. “We knew Purnell Swett had beaten us before so we had to step up our game and that’s what we did tonight. We’ve just got to keep it rolling.”
Led by Painter with 13 kills and four blocks, and outside hitters Callie Boone and Ashleigh Welton with 10 and eight kills, respectively, the Patriots won the battle at the net in a big way. Megan Thomas was the assist leader with 20.
Welton came through in the clutch with winners from the left side toward the end of the close first set. Painter had seven of her kills as the Patriots deflated the visitors in the lop-sided second game. Five service points in a row by Boone, who was playing a new position, and some strong play in the middle by Amber Goodwin, helped stake the Pats to a 17-6 lead in the third game.
“I haven’t played outside hitter before so this was my debut,” said Boone, one of the Patriot setters all season. “It’s the same position on the floor, but just on a different side. But hitting is a lot different than setting.”
Injuries have made the outside hitter position kind of a revolving door, although Welton has been anchored on the left side most of the season. Janea Williams and Molly Maples missed the entire campaign because of injuries that required surgery. Keyasa Martin, Devin Lally and Carina Houseman have all been sidelined for periods by leg injuries.
“We changed several things because of injuries and because we weren’t getting what I expected from the outside,” Foxx said. “Callie gives us more power and experience in that position now. That takes her out of the defense, and we have a quicker person on defense so that helps out.”
Keegan Lynch with seven digs, and Rae Nunez with six, helped keep the ball alive in a match full of long rallies.
“We attacked the areas we wanted to attack tonight and we did that often enough to give us a win,” Foxx said. “We had pretty good net play.”
Seniors Welton, Boone, Martin, Houseman, Kaitlynn Pace and Samantha Creech were all honored before last Thursday’s final regular-season match against Hoke County.
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