Dynamic Patriots Knock Off Vikes
Pinecrest head volleyball coach Barbara Foxx collected her 650th NCHSAA victory Wednesday at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron, where her Patriot team defeated Union Pines in straight sets.
With the 25-5, 25-11 and 25-22 cross-county nonconference victory, Pinecrest improved to 14-1 on the season.
Foxx, in her 35th year as the head volleyball coach at Pinecrest, moved into some rarified company with the win. She is currently the third-winningest volleyball coach in the state of North Carolina. Ahead of her are two retired coaches, Kathy Stefanou of Millbrook (657 wins) and Jan Stanley of West Henderson (698).
After the match she took some time to reflect on the achievement.
“It means that I have had a lot of talent throughout the years, and a great coaching staff,” said Foxx. “My coaching staff has been consistent. When you have consistency in your coaching staff and good athletes, then you can have a winning program. So it feels good that the girls have been playing well for a long time.”
Despite missing standout starter and heavy hitter Janea Williams, Pinecrest managed to display plenty of talent in an organized, potent style of power volleyball.
The Pats jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first set behind a dynamic attack featuring crisp first passes, versatile, deceptive setting and hard hitting. Pinecrest had nine kills, two blocks and eight assists in the set to take a 1-0 lead with a 25-5 victory.
Set two was more of the same. Pinecrest was simply too tough at the net defensively and too dynamic on offense for the Vikings. The results were 14 Patriot kills and two blocks as the visitors scored 13 of the final 15 points of the set to tally a 25-11 win and build a 2-0 lead.
Foxx said her team has been working hard for quite a while to reach the level they are at. After the tilt she focused on the efficiency of her girls to terminate points as a key factor to their success.
“We came out strong,” Foxx said, “and we came out not making any errors; that was the big thing. We also were making good passes from the onset. If we make good passes, then we can run our attack and our girls were terminating.
“Our objective this year is to try and terminate (points) as quickly as possible, rather than playing it over and passing and giving our opponents the opportunity to hit it at us. I have to go back to us doing a good job of passing tonight.
“Passing is the name of the game and the girls were on target, which meant the sets were there, allowing the attacks to be aggressive.”
Two key clogs in the Pinecrest precision power game against Union Pines were senior setter Megan Thomas and senior middle blocker Felicia Painter. Through the two-set mark Painter wreaked havoc at the net, amassing nine kills and four blocks. Meanwhile, Thomas distributed the ball in an deceptively efficient manner for 20 assists and two kills.
Both girls were honored to take part in Foxx’s landmark victory and happy to leave Cameron with a decisive county-rivalry win.
“Well, we always get pumped up for a Union Pines match just because it is a county rival,” said Thomas. “In this one we came in with our heads held high because we have lost only one game this season.”
Thomas finished the night with a match-high 31 assists and also tallied four kills for Pinecrest.
“We were part of coach Foxx’s 600th win too,” Thomas said. “So it is big that we have been with her for so long — it kind of gives you goose bumps thinking about it.”
Painter, who led the visiting Pats with 13 kills and six blocks, was also around when Foxx collected win No. 600.
“We played Richmond last night and did not have a problem beating them, so that momentum kind of carried over into tonight,” Painter said. “Coming into this match we were excited to play the Vikings again. We knew we had to play hard and just did everything we could to build momentum throughout the whole game and get a good result.
“The fact that this was 650 for coach Foxx is awesome. She is an awesome coach, and we would not be half the team we are if it weren’t for coach Foxx. So we love her and we are glad to help her get as many wins as we can.”
Other stat leaders for the Patriots included libero Keegan Lynch with 10 digs and Madison Walling with nine. Mary Grace Phipps finished with seven kills despite playing on an injured ankle, and Olivia McKinney reached double-digits in kills for Pinecrest with 10.
Union Pines saw its record slip to 8-8 with the loss as they suffered a season series sweep against Pinecrest. Tiffany Hicks and Kelsey Troyer each had five kills apiece to lead Union Pines on the night. Hicks also tallied a team-best five blocks at the net. Vike sophomore setter Megan Harris finished with 14 assists and three kills, while senior libero Brittney Erickson had 11 digs.
The Vikings finished the week Thursday with a home league match against Douglas Byrd. Union Pines is currently 2-3 in 3-A Cape Fear Valley action. Pinecrest was also in league action Thursday at home against the Hoke County Bucks. The Pats are currently 3-1 in 4-A Southeastern Conference competition.
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