Patriots Get By Smith in First Round
The patented move by Mary Grace Phipps begins with a hop, then a skip, and then wham. Or is it a skip and then a hop before the finish?
It all happens in the wink of an eye, but most of the time the volleyball struck by the Pinecrest outside hitter ends up on the floor on the other side of the net.
“Everybody says something to me about it, but I’ve always just done it,” says the senior, who employs a similar approach on her powerful jump serves. “I guess it helps me get higher.”
Phipps has been a nice addition to a veteran Patriot squad since transferring to Pinecrest this summer from J.H. Rose in Greenville. She contributed 10 kills and 10 digs to Saturday’s 25-21, 25-17 and 25-22 victory over E.E. Smith in a 4-A state playoff opener at James Moore Gym.
Coach Barbara Foxx’s second seeded squad took a record of 23-3 into Tuesday’s second-round match at undefeated Pine Forest (23-0). The Trojans advanced with a sweep of New Bern.
Saturday’s win was the third of the season for the Pats over the Golden Bulls from the Mid South Conference. Janea Williams had four of her team-high 17 kills early in the first set to get the Patriots off to a good start.
The visitors rallied to tie things up at 18-18 before a smash by Williams and a win at the net by Phipps put the Pats in front for good. The final point came off one of 31 assists in the match by Megan Thomas for a kill by Olivia McKinney.
The Patriots rolled in the second set behind service runs by Felicia Painter and Katie Smith. Several junior varsity call-ups saw action before the match was over. It ended on kills by Amber Goodwin and Painter.
Painter finished with nine kills and 10 service points. Goodwin had seven kills and libero Keegan Lynch finished with eight digs.
It was an active game for Williams, who kept balls alive and passed well in addition to her attacks. She recorded 19 kills in the previous match against Scotland High.
“We’ve been working on passing and approaches, and that’s helped the attackers,” the 6-foot-3 senior said. “Coming into the state playoffs, everybody needs to work harder.”
The Patriots have made it to the third round each of the past two years. This is one of Foxx’s strongest teams over the past dozen. The 2010 squad, led by conference player of the year Addy George, finished 24-7.
The 2004 team that included the hitting trio of Stephanie Carter, Ashley Craven and Ashley Dickerson went 27-4. It made it to the East Region final before losing to J.H. Rose in five sets.
Phipps feels good about this team’s chances of making a good run even though the Pine Forest match presented a big hurdle.
“I feel if we put enough effort into it we can do it, because we work well together,” she said. “I’m pretty confident.”
Ahead for Tuesday’s winner is a third-round date against either Ashley or Garner later in the week. The Patriots eliminated Garner in the second round the last two years.
NCHSAA record keepers became aware last week that Chapel Hill volleyball coach Sherry Norris posted career victory 703 (703-246). Saturday’s win put Foxx, who like Norris, is in her 35th year as a coach, at 659-190. She recently passed Millbrook coach Kathy Stefanou, who retired with 657 wins.
According to the best information that could be obtained, it appears Foxx is currently fourth on the all-time list behind Norris, Jan Stanley of West Henderson, who retired with 698, and Hoggard coach Ron Strickland, who came into this week with 662.
The NCHSAA indicates in its item about Norris that its records are based upon data submitted by the schools.
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