Patriot Volleyball Surges With New Additions
The Pinecrest volleyball team has gotten help from a couple of experienced players that were not with the team last year during its 5-0 start to this season.
The Patriots defeated Western Harnett 25-8, 25-8 and 25-18 at home on Tuesday in their fifth match in the last nine days. They were led by Felicia Painter with 12 kills, Megan Thomas with 24 assists, and Keegan Lynch with 14 service points and six digs.
After Monday’s contest at E.E. Smith, the Patriots will be idle until they entertain Union Pines on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Janea Williams, a 6-foot-3 senior who earned all-conference honors as a sophomore, is leading the team in kills after missing last season because of shoulder surgery. Senior Mary Grace Phipps has been another big contributor with her strong hitting, serves and defense as an outside hitter after transferring from J.H. Rose.
“Mary Grace has fit right in with our girls, so that’s been a big plus,” Patriot coach Barbara Foxx said before practice on Wednesday.
Williams recently committed verbally to play basketball at the University of North Florida in 2013. She has devoted most of her time to basketball since the recovery.
Foxx has watched her begin to hit her stride recently on the volleyball court.
“I haven’t had any problems,” Williams says of the shoulder. “When I got back, everybody knew what they were doing and that helped me. The setters have worked with me and my jumping has gotten better.
“The biggest thing for me was probably blocking, but I’m getting my confidence up and it’s getting better.”
The stakes get higher after the Labor Day break when the Patriots meet a Union Pines team that defeated them twice a year ago. Then come conference games against Lumberton, and a Scotland High team that is seeking its eight conference title in a row.
“We’re already talking about Union Pines,” says Thomas, who went over the 1,100 mark in assists in her four-year varsity career on Tuesday. “We’re already pumped up for it.”
The Patriots have won all 15 sets they’ve played this season. But Foxx doesn’t feel the team is so sure of itself at this point that it will be overconfident and take any opponent for granted.
“I think they understand we’re stronger than we’ve been in a while,” the coach says. “I think they understand we’re talented. I think they understand what we are capable of. They need to stay grounded and keep our fundamentals sound.”
Phipps was a member of the J.H. Rose junior varsity team when the Greenville school knocked the Patriots out of the state playoffs in the third round in 2010.
Although the first day of school is not until Monday, volleyball has been making a big change a lot easier.
“I thought it was going to be hard, but when I started playing volleyball I made friends,” she says. “I like this team because they all get along and work hard together.”
That’s something the Patriot coach likes to hear. One of the things that has picked up in recent matches is the communication between the players on the court.
“Communication is No.1,” Foxx says. “Even if you are nervous it can help you a lot. The more we communicate the more confident we will get and the more fun we will have out there. We’ve got to have that kind of unity to go as far as we want this year.”
More like this story