08/31/05 — Rosewood spikers claim third victim of season

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Rosewood spikers claim third victim of season

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 31, 2005 2:10 PM

Rosewood turned in a solid, all-around performance and improved its record to 3-0 after a sweep of county foe Southern Wayne on Tuesday at home.

The Eagles topped the Saints 25-9, 25-19, 25-17.

Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran listed serving and passing as two of her squad's biggest strength this season. The Eagles were especially strong from the service line on Tuesday, posting 21 points (11 in game one) on either aces or mishandled serves by the Saints, who have had just one day of practice under first-year volleyball coach Sally Combs and were playing in their season opener.

"We've got a lot of leadership, but our strong point is serving and passing," Cochran said. "I'm pleased with the way these girls support each other. Our whole motto is to not plateau ... to get better every game."

In the first game, Rosewood quickly jumped out to a 12-4 lead and never looked back. Stephanie Rhodes, Kasey Braswell, Courtney Hill and Clare Narron each collected at least one ace for the Eagles, a team with six seniors, as the Saints never consistently passed off of the serve.

Rhodes served up two aces to close out the first set 25-9.

The Saints, who showed signs of steady improvement through the match, had advantages of 5-4 and 8-7 in the second game, before Rosewood claimed the lead for good.

Hill took serve with the game tied at 8-8, then scored on four straight to boost her teams' margin. The Saints cut it two once more when Brittany Smith's serve was mishandled, making it 13-11, but Southern Wayne would get no closer down the stretch as the Eagles pulled away.

"I just put in a new system yesterday. It was my second day on the job," Combs said.

"As the games went on, they got better and better. A lot of hustle, good teamwork and covering the spots ... it's going to come around."

Similar to game two, the Saints battled in the early and middle stages of the third game and held leads of 7-4, then 10-8 after a block by Lindsay Pearsall. After a communication breakdown by Southern Wayne helped the Eagles tie the match at 11-11, Rosewood took control. Hill's spike made it 12-11 as the Eagles never lost their lead or allowed the Saints any closer than four points the rest of the match.

Narron finished off the third game, serving up an ace, pushing the score to its final margin of 25-17.

Abigail Barrow finished with six assists for Rosewood, which hosts Union on Thursday. Cochran hopes the Eagles improve game-to-game heading into what she believes will be a competitive, Class 1-A Carolina Conference season.

"Anybody in our conference has a chance. But, these girls have got a mission set aside that they want one of those banners on the wall, so we're going to do everything we can to make it happen," she said.

The Saints, with six returning players from last year, make the short trip today to face another county foe, Spring Creek.

"We can't get fatigued like we did, we couldn't get a serve over we had too many unforced errors," Combs said. "The goal is to be successful and develop character. I think these girls can be competitive. How competitive, let's wait and see."