Vike Girls Fall to Defending State Champs
The storied season of the Union Pines volleyball team ended Tuesday in Raleigh, with a straight-set loss to defending state champion Cardinal Gibbons in the second round of the 3-A playoffs.
The homestanding Crusaders (18-3) entered the match as the top-ranked 3-A squad in the state and the No. 2 team statewide, according to MaxPreps’ Freeman rankings. With the 25-16, 25-12 and 25-8 victory, Cardinal Gibbons remained undefeated in state competition at 18-0. The Crusaders’ only losses of the season came against three teams from California during a midseason invitational.
The Vikings began the season on an 11-game winning streak and finished their 2011 campaign at 21-4. Along the way, Union Pines earned a share of the Cape Fear Valley Conference regular-season championship, along with Overhills and Western Harnett. All three ended with a league mark of 10-2.
Despite Tuesday’s loss, Viking head coach Leslie Fish is extremely proud of the effort and results she received from her girls throughout the season.
“This team finished with the best record since I started coaching here,” said Fish. “My first year we went 19-4, back in 2006, but this may be the best record in school history. We are currently checking the record books to make sure. More importantly though, these girls grew together and never gave up.
“Led by my five seniors, this has been the most close-knit and coachable team I have worked with. They practiced and worked hard along the way as a team — always battling together as one unit, win or lose.”
The match marked the final one for Viking seniors Morgan Bridgers (co-captain), Crystal Hicks (co-captain), Lexi Byrd, Anna Sadler and Cassidy Walker.
“These five seniors set the bar high for the other young ladies in the program to strive for,” Fish said, “and we will miss them tremendously. All five of them are leaders, which is hard to find, and they worked for four years to make their last season their best season. I could not be more proud of the determination, sacrifice and dedication they showed. They have all been superb role models for the younger girls in the program and our freshman look up to them.
“I am thankful I was able to coach such top-notch young ladies who represented Union Pines and the volleyball team in stellar fashion. We were reminiscing back to when we were having two-a-days (practices) during their sophomore season. We knew we had to get better and stronger — weights and conditioning were at 6:15 a.m. and practice after school — and they did, ending with a 21-4 record, as tri-champions in the conference and reaching the second round of states for the second straight season.”
Vike sophomore Tiffany Hicks, along with juniors Brittany Erickson, Zazil Porras and Kelsey Troyer each saw plenty of action on the year and, according to Fish, all were a “crucial” to Union Pines’ success.
“Tiffany steadily improved as her confidence built early on,” Fish said, “and matured into a steady force for us as both a primary blocker and hitter in the middle. Zazil finished the year strong and came up big in some critical matches with serves, hits and digs. Brittany provided us with a versatile player out on the floor. She is ultra-competitive and played well wherever I put her, while Kelsey stepped up into her starting role and hit well from all three positions at the net.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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