09/22/04 — Rosewood sweeps archrival Princeton at home

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Rosewood sweeps archrival Princeton at home

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 22, 2004 1:56 PM

Veteran Rosewood volleyball coach Jennifer Cochran couldn't have been more pleased with her team's business-like attitude Tuesday afternoon against archrival Princeton.

The Eagles attacked every point and minimized their mistakes in each set en route to an important 25-21, 25-15, 25-18 victory in Class 1-A Carolina Conference play. Rosewood (9-3) remained tied with North Johnston for second place in the league at 4-2, and both teams trail front-runner Farmville Central by two games.

The conference receives just two playoff berths for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin Oct. 26.

"We had a real good game Thursday against North Duplin, and they're real strong," Cochran said. "Princeton had beaten North Duplin, apparently. The girls got together yesterday (Monday) and had a good team meeting.

"We want one of those (championship) banners, so today is one of those pieces we had to get. We did real well today."

Princeton (7-7) finished first-half play at 3-3.

"This was a big game for us," first-year Bulldogs coach Trudy Rast said. "Now we've got a hole to work out of."

The Bulldogs started well and nearly silenced a partisan Eagle crowd in the opening set. Stephanie Daughtry and middle hitter Nicole Hargis combined for three kills in early 4-1 run.

Rosewood settled down and sharpened its passing game, which allowed senior middle hitter Jessica Hill to get involved in the offense. While Hill collected just two kills in the early going, her presence at the net and ability to cover the floor prevented Princeton from stringing together several points.

Hill's block against Hargis and a kill ignited a six-point run late in the first set. She added an off-speed hit down the line and two service aces, while Katy Morris provided a kill off Clare Narron's assist.

The Eagles continued hitting off-speed stuff since the Bulldog defense was pinching the middle of the court. Narron and Morris each had an off-speed hit that resulted in points, while Stephanie Rhodes added a kill.

Hill closed out the first set by blocking a Daughtry kill attempt.

"We played them from 10-foot line to 10-foot line, but if we play from end line to end line, we beat teams," Cochran said. "(Moving the ball) put pressure on them. She's (Hill) our weapon, but in the past we haven't used that weapon to our advantage.

"We're a defensive team, but I think our offense is coming."

Hill had two off-speed hits and a monster kill off Hannah Aycock's assist to get the Eagles going in the second set. The early surge allowed Rosewood to build as much as a 10-point lead.

Princeton closed within 18-11 before Hill's back-to-back kills and Narron's three consecutive aces put the set out of reach at 23-11. Another off-speed hit from Hill and a hitting error concluded the second set and the Eagles never relinquished their control.

The off-speed hitting spread the Bulldogs' defense and left the middle open for two Hill kills early in the third set. Rosewood ... again ... bolted to an early lead and also received six aces from Abigail Barrow, who consistently served low, floating balls that the Bulldogs couldn't receive.

"We didn't have a lot of strong passes ... a lot of missed passes and it looked like we were standing around, watching the ball hit the floor," Rast said. "Hill is a good player, strong. We did a pretty good job covering (early), but then they started finding the holes.

"We weren't moving our feet at all."

Hill finished with a match-high 19 kills, six blocks and nine digs. Narron and Abigail Barrow combined for 19 assists and six aces. Overall, Rosewood served 24 aces.

Hargis led the Bulldogs with six kills and three blocks. Melissa Worley dished out 11 assists.

Rosewood begins second-half play Thursday at Farmville Central. Princeton is the guest of Smithfield-Selma today, and entertains Ayden-Grifton on Thursday. The Bulldogs must play near perfect to challenge for a playoff spot.

"We need to come out strong like we did the other day against Farmville Central those last three games," Rast said. "Our girls played really well together and really worked hard. Tonight it seemed like everybody was just loafing around."