PHS Volleyball Upsets Garner
Advances to Third Round in Playoffs
A Pinecrest volleyball team that seemed to be feeling good about itself worked out before school early Wednesday morning.
And rightfully so. Not too many hours before, the coaches and players had gotten back from Garner where they defeated the No. 1 seed from the Greater Neuse River Conference, in the second round of the 4A state playoffs -for the second year in a row.
Overcoming a 2-1 deficit, the Patriots (21-8) prevailed 25-17, 19-25, 15-25, 25-23 and 15-13 behind a season-high 26 kills by Felicia Painter and a season-high 33 assists by Megan Thomas. Libero Rae Nunez contributed 14 digs and eight service points.
With the victory the second-seeded Pats, of the Southeastern Conference, advance to a third round district match at Hoggard (19-3, Mideastern Conference top seed), on Thursday. The other two teams remaining in the upper part of the East Bracket are Scotland County (22-0) and Rose (13-5).
“We’re really excited to be going to the third round so I don’t think we dreaded coming to practice,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to give it all we’ve got and get further than we did last year.”
The Trojans were 14-0 in their league for the second year in a row. The Patriots swept them a year ago but trailed 2-1 this time after dropping the third set 25-15.
“Watching them warm up, we knew they had improved and it wasn’t going to be the same as last year,” Painter said. “I think we got our heads down in the third game. Obviously, it was do or die. In the fourth game, we stepped it up. In the fifth game, we stepped it up and wound up with the “W”.
The lead changed hands a couple of times in the fourth game. Leading 14-13 in the tiebreaker set, Painter and Thomas, both juniors, went to one of their plays.
“They (Trojans) weren’t covering behind the block,” Painter, an outside hitter on the right said. “Megan threw it up behind her head and I tipped it. It was open and I put it there.”
It was a play the pair have run many times in their three varsity seasons.
“With Felicia, I’m very confident with it,” Thomas said. “That’s probably one of her best swings. If we get a good pass, it works almost every time.”
Other contributors for Coach Barbara Foxx’s squad included Ashleigh Welton, eight kills and 10 service points, Callie Boone, eight kills and eight digs, Amber Goodwin, eight kills and Keegan Lynch, 11 assists and seven digs. Also, Katie Smith had seven digs and Painter had five blocks.
The morning practice was called because Boone had a school choral practice in the afternoon, preparing for a solo performance in the evening.
Foxx was proud of the way the team fought back. It has had to overcome injuries to five players, all outside hitters, this season. She is expecting a tough match from a Hoggard squad that finished ahead of J.H. Rose in the Mideastern Conference. Rose, a possible fourth round opponent, knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs the last two years.
“Losing five starters and having gone this far, anything now is gravy,” the coach said. “No matter what happens, I’m going to be extremely proud of what the girls accomplished this year.”
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