10/07/05 — Outright champions

View Archive

Outright champions

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on October 7, 2005 2:09 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- In order for the Rosewood volleyball program to make history, they would first have to answer a wake-up call by Spring Creek in the Gators' gymnasium.

The Eagles did just that.

With Rosewood up 2-0, Spring Creek took the third set -- marking the first time a Class 1-A Carolina Conference team has taken a set from Rosewood all year. The Eagles bounced back from the rare setback, cruising 25-6 in the fourth set to seal a 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-6 victory.

The win clinched the outright conference title for Rosewood (17-0, 8-0 Carolina), which remains unbeaten with three regular season games left.

The championship is the first ever for the Eagles' volleyball program as Rosewood is also guaranteed the conference's No. 1 seed for the Carolina tournament and the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"When we lost that one game, we got fired up and we were ready to go. We started pulling up as a team and playing like we usually play," said Rosewood's Clare Narron, one of five seniors on the Eagles' roster. "Nobody on this team wants to be the all-star. We just pull together as a team because we know it's the only way to win."

Rosewood has now won a whopping, 51-of-54 sets in match play.

Spring Creek (9-6 overall) fell to 2-6 in league play and faces an uphill battle to claim the only other guaranteed playoff spot from the conference.

The first two sets proved tightly contested throughout with seven ties in each of the opening two sets.

The Gators forced the final tie of the first set at 14-14 on a kill by Courtney Oxendine, but Rosewood quickly regained the lead after an unforced error by Spring Creek and never faced another tie. The Eagles' Kelli Gurley had a nice kill from the right to push the Rosewood up 17-14 as Gator coach Deanna Morris took a timeout.

Morris saw her team battle to close the gap to two once more at 20-18, only to see the Eagles tally five of the next seven points to close out the first set at 25-20.

With Courtney Hill at the service line, the Eagles took their largest lead of the second set at 15-9 when Hill served on five straight points with three aces. Spring Creek's Lorenda Brogden gave her team a boost with three aces to close the gap to 16-13, before the Gators took their final lead of set two at 17-16.

From there, Narron and Hill took nice sets from Abigail Barrow at the net and helped Rosewood hold on to a 25-23 win.

The Eagles led by five as late as 10-5 in the third set, but the Gators continued to battle. Spring Creek's Margo Sauter served up three-straight aces to give her team their first lead of the set at 18-17. The lead see-sawed for the next several points, then the Gators went ahead for good at 21-20 after a tip attempt by Rosewood went wide.

Brittani Billups had a pair of kills down the stretch as Spring Creek claimed set three 25-21.

"I was proud of my girls. We talked a lot better and played hard," Spring Creek coach Deanna Morris said. "If we play like we played tonight, we can do well the rest of the conference."

The win obviously energized Spring Creek and its faithful, but Rosewood came out unfazed.

With Gurley serving, the Eagles jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back. Spring Creek got the lead down to five three times with the last coming at 11-6. Rosewood went on to win the final 14 points of the match, 13 with Narron at the service line on their way to a 25-6 victory that sealed the match and the conference title.

"It feels awesome. This is a really great experience, but we've still got some work to do," Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran said. "We've got to keep this roll going and not plateau. Tonight we got better in that fourth game."

The Eagles take on Goldsboro in a non-conference game on Monday, before wrapping up their conference schedule on Tuesday (vs. North Duplin) and Thursday (at Princeton). The Gators look to rebound at home on Tuesday against North Johnston, before finishing the regular season at North Duplin.