10/14/05 — Eagles finish regular season undefeated

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Eagles finish regular season undefeated

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on October 14, 2005 2:11 PM

PRINCETON -- For Rosewood's volleyball team, finishing the regular season undefeated was an impressive accomplishment to say the least.

Finishing off the unblemished year on archrival Princeton's home floor proved to be icing on the cake.

The Eagles (20-0 overall), who snapped a two-match losing streak at the Bulldogs' gymnasium, concluded Class 1-A Carolina Conference play with a perfect, 10-0 mark after a 25-17, 25-12, 25-15 sweep of Princeton.

According to Wayne County Athletics Director, Dean Sauls, Rosewood is the first volleyball program in county history to finish the regular season with a perfect mark. The Eagles are also the first female athletic team in the county to accomplish such a feat since the Goldsboro girls basketball team in 1980-81 that finished 27-0 and captured a 4-A state title.

"It's awesome. We've never had this kind of season," Rosewood senior Kelli Gurley said. "It's awesome to finish off our senior year and beat them (Princeton) on their home court. We're a team, and we're all in it for the win.

"Still, we want to get better. We want more."

The sweep of Princeton was Rosewood's 17th of the season as it has won an astonishing 60-of-63 sets overall.

With the top two seeds getting a first-round bye, Rosewood will face the No. 3 vs. No. 6 winner next Wednesday at home in conference tourney action. Princeton (5-5 Carolina) will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, depending on the outcome of Thursday's match between North Johnston and Ayden-Grifton.

The top two seeds following conference tournament play are guaranteed a spot in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"We've got to keep our heads and come out focused next week," Princeton coach Trudi Rast said.

On their senior night in front of a loud home crowd, the Bulldogs came out of the gate with the momentum, leading by as much as seven in the first set at 13-6. Princeton's Stephanie Daughtry had several kills at the net during the early stages, while teammate Kaitlyn Haddock had five-straight service points with one ace.

Rosewood, with its fair share of supporters in the stands, played through the early adversity and marched back to take its first lead at 15-14 with Gurley, who finished with four digs and two aces, at the service line.

Gurley took serve with her team down 14-12, then served on 12 straight points as the Eagles pulled ahead 24-14. During that stretch, Kasie Braswell had four of her seven kills, while Gurley served up three aces. Rosewood claimed set one 25-17 after a Princeton serve sailed deep.

Rosewood never trailed in the second or third set.

Princeton never managed a long service runs as the Eagles' hitting foursome of Braswell, Hill, Clare Narron and Kasey Grey did plenty of damage up front -- combing for 25 kills. Abigail Barrow added 18 assists and two digs, while Stephanie Rhodes had four kills and four digs.

"I think our middle hitters did a great job of blocking, we passed the free-ball really well and the outside hitters really put the ball away," Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran said. "We've got to be consistent again in the playoffs, because we have to play a No. 1 seed in the first round."

Ahead 2-0 after closing out the second set at 25-15, Roseowood's Brooke Goff stepped up to the service line and quickly turned a 5-2 lead into a 14-2 advantage in the third set. Goff had two aces during the stretch, while Rhodes, Narron and Gurley stayed active at the net.

Later in the third set, Rosewood's rare service error went long, pulling the Bulldogs within six at 21-15. From there, the Eagles regrouped to win the next four points with the final two points coming on unforced errors by Princeton -- sealing the set, match and a perfect regular season.

"We made a few mistakes and we just never put it back together," Rast said. "They (Rosewood) have great servers, they block at the net very good and they are a very scrappy team."

Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran was quick to praise the effort of her six seniors -- Gurley, Narron, Barrow, Grey, Rhodes and Goff.

"These girls have stuck together through thick and thin," Cochran said. "This game was the best attitude game we've had, because everyone wanted it so bad. They've gone beyond expectations."

Haddock, Kristen Parker, Brittany Rose, Jenny Wallace and Mandy Wellons played in their final regular season home game for Princeton.