10/21/04 — Prep volleyball -- Bulldogs fall, end season

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Prep volleyball -- Bulldogs fall, end season

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on October 21, 2004 1:56 PM

FARMVILLE -- Princeton volleyball coach Trudi Rast has seen her team turn in several upsets this season and become arguably the hottest team in the Class 1-A Carolina Conference down the stretch.

Home-standing and regular season champion Farmville Central denied one final upset bid by the Bulldogs Wednesday night in the semifinals of the conference tournament as the Jaguars claimed a 26-24, 18-25, 25-16, 25-21 win.

Still, Rast views the season as an overall success. Her team displayed steady improvement and finished fourth in a balanced conference. Princeton defeated both North Johnston and Rosewood once each, while taking Farmville to five games twice before falling to the Jaguars.

"They've done a great job stepping up. We've had a few upsets, and I'm sure Rosewood and North Johnston didn't think we could beat them," Rast said. "I was hoping we would have that same kind of intensity tonight, but we didn't get it going."

"I'm proud of the girls though. We've really improved from the beginning of the season to now."

The Bulldogs concluded the season at 13-10 overall after a 7-5 conference campaign. Farmville opposes Rosewood in the tournament championship tonight at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs displayed their best all-around play during the second set. Brittany Rose stretched Princeton's lead to 21-16 with two-straight points on serve, while teammate Sarah Gibbs drilled a kill to put the Dogs up 22-17. Gibbs finished with four kills and five blocks.

Kristen Parker, who finished with seven aces, served up an ace to clinch the second set win at 25-18.

After splitting the first two sets, Princeton and Farmville looked poised for another five-set thriller on Wednesday. But, the Jags ultimately took control of the match in the middle stages of the third set. With Erika Taylor serving, Farmville turned a 12-11 advantage into a 17-11 margin. The Bulldogs were hindered by a pair of unforced errors during the run.

Down the stretch of the third, Princeton made a several more costly miscues, while Farmville's Jessicka Joyner posted two kills and one ace to close the third set at 25-16.

"I feel like we didn't call the ball that well tonight," Rast said. "It seemed like we were kind of down and not pumped up from the start."

The fourth and deciding set saw the Bulldogs bounce back and keep pace with the Jags, thanks largely to strong net play by Nicole Hargis. Hargis, who finished with a team-high nine kills to go with four blocks, posted two kills to pull her team to within two at 11-8 and 12-9.

Princeton got as close as 16-14 after a Jaguar miscue, prompting the Farmville coach to call a timeout. From there, the Bulldogs traded points and serve with Farmville, but never managed to draw even. A Princeton unforced error sealed the Jags' win at 25-21.

Hargis, Melissa Worley, Sam Harlan and Shanika Atkinson played in their final volleyball games for the blue and gold.

"They are a great group of girls. I've seen a lot of improvement out of all them," Rast said. "We are really going to miss them a lot next year."