Patriots Sweep Jack Britt
There was plenty for coach Barbara Foxx to like about the Pinecrest volleyball team’s 25-16, 25-16 and 25-11 sweep over Jack Britt in Monday’s season opener at James Moore Gym.
Except for one untidy stretch during the second set, the Patriots outplayed the Buccaneers in all departments. Senior Megan Thomas served for 20 points and was credited with 18 assists. Janea Williams had a team-high 10 kills. Fellow senior Felicia Painter contributed seven kills and six blocks.
The Patriots were scheduled to entertain Lee County on Tuesday before playing their third home match of the week on Thursday at 6 p.m. against E.E. Smith.
“For a first game I thought we played real well,” Foxx said. “We missed too many serves and we had some communication problems. But we’ll have time to correct that before tomorrow.”
A service ace by junior Katie Smith ended a run of six points that gave the Patriots an 11-5 lead in the first game. Senior middle blocker Amber Goodwin and outside hitter Mary Grace Phipps, a senior transfer from J.H. Rose, got into the act early in the hitting department.
“Before the game we were all kind of nervous with first-game jitters,” Thomas said. “But when we came out on top in the first game, it kind of gave us a boost of energy to just finish them.”
The Patriot domination was interrupted briefly in the second game by a Buc rally from another 11-5 deficit into a 13-13 tie.
“Half of us didn’t even notice they came back,” Painter said. “I was like, ‘Guys, we’ve got to get up,’ so when I rotated back to the front row, I got some blocks and kills and helped to get us back on top. We did need a little push.”
Painter had three kills, including one with a push pass into space, and Williams chipped in with another, as the Patriots regained control with a 6-0 run. Smith got the final point of set two with another service ace.
Phipps and Thomas each had a seven-point serving run, propelling the home side to a 16-2 advantage in the one-sided third game. Sophomore Olivia McKinney served for the final point of the match.
The Patriots had a strong presence at the net last year with Painter and Goodwin in the middle. It has been strengthened with the return of Williams, who led the team in kills as a sophomore, but missed last season after shoulder surgery, and the addition of Phipps on the outside.
No one appreciates the reinforced front more than Thomas in her fourth season as a setter.
“It gives me a lot of confidence that I don’t just have the middles anymore,” she said. “Now I can go outside and mix it up.”
Foxx noticed that Williams and Phipps got more comfortable in their roles as the match went on.
“It’s a blessing to have both of those girls,” the coach said. “Of course Janea still has to get her timing down, but she’s still getting kills. The new girl (Phipps) had some jitters from being in her first game at a new school. She settled down and played well.”
Smith served for 10 points and Painter and Phipps served for nine and eight, respectively. Goodwin had seven kills and senior libero Keegan Lynch was credited with five digs.
The Patriot junior varsity team was defeated 19-25, 25-14 and 19-25.
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