Pinecrest Volleyball Team Turns to Thomas for Assists
Barbara Foxx has seen a lot of good setters come through the Pinecrest volleyball program in 35 years as the coach of the Patriots.
Among the best is Megan Thomas who is closing in on 1,600 assists in her four-year career. The senior tacked on 24 more in Thursday’s 25-8, 25-16 and 26-24 conference win at home over Purnell Swett. The Patriots improved to 19-2 overall and 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
The problems for the hustling Rams began with the Patriot serving game. Six of the 11 points in the match by jump-serving Mary Grace Phipps came on aces. The low, hard serves of Madison Walling helped produce 10 points. Middle blocker Felicia Painter contributed 10 service points and eight kills.
The Rams rallied behind middle blocker Jamee Bird to tie the third set before Phipp’s final ace ended the match.
The list of standouts at the setter position for Pinecrest include Ashley Austin from Foxx’s 1988 state championship squad and Jennifer McNeil from the 1992 state title team. Among the others that excelled at the position were Christi Moore, current Patriot assistant coach Toni Douglas Boney, Destonie Pietz and Morgan Ridge.
Paige Horne, who was a co-setter when Thomas was a freshman, is currently sharing those duties for undefeated Fayetteville State (11-0) after helping Sandhills Community College reach the national championship tournament two years ago.
Thomas says she never expected to make the varsity as a freshman. Her main tutor since her first year has been Boney.
“Coach Boney has taught me most of my skills, the footwork, the hands, everything,” she says.
Never has Thomas had more hitters to choose from than this year with swingers like Painter, Phipps, Janea Williams and Amber Goodwin.
“We work on it every day so I can basically do whatever they ask me to do,” Thomas says. “I have confidence in all of them. They can put it down and that’s a point.”
The Patriots have gone 64-18 over the last three years with a core of players, including Painter and Williams that started out as freshmen with Thomas. Defensive specialist Keegan Lynch is a three-year starter.
“Megan is having a good year and has had a good career,” Foxx says. “She has had four years of training, she’s athletic and now she understands what her responsibilities are. She’s consistent and her serves are extremely consistent.”
Boney, who was a scholarship player at North Carolina Central, recently got a chance to watch Horne perform at Fayetteville State. She says she can’t wait to watch her current protege play in college.
“Megan is a great setter and very coachable,” Boney says. “She works hard and it shows in games. I think she will do a great job in college.”
The Patriots continue SEC play with a match at Richmond Senior on Tuesday.
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