09/13/06 — Rosewood opens defense of Carolina crown with five-set win

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Rosewood opens defense of Carolina crown with five-set win

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 13, 2006 2:16 PM

Rosewood's volleyball team began defense of their Class 1-A Carolina Conference title with a hard-fought, five-set win at home over Ayden-Grifton on Tuesday.

After taking the first game 25-21, the Eagles suffered setbacks of 25-23, 26-24 in the second and third games, respectively. With its backs against the wall, Rosewood recovered to claim the final two games by margins of 25-15 and 15-10.

The Eagles (7-1, 1-0), who return just two starters from last year's 25-1 team, will take a 13-match winning streak against league foes into Thursday's contest at North Johnston.

"We're not really young, but we're inexperienced overall," Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran said. "I think sometimes they're trying too hard instead of just playing and having fun. There's a lot of pressure on these girls to live up to last year, but this is a different team."

The Chargers (2-4, 0-1) made sure win No. 13 was far from easy.

Rosewood jumped out to a 22-12 lead in the first game, only to see the visitors rally to score nine of the next 10 points and get as close as 23-21 behind the hitting of Jessica Teachey and serving of Cait Skinner.

The Eagles held off the Chargers' late charge as an ace by senior Aubrey Reinhard, who finished with seven of her team's 21 aces, closed out the first game.

In a match where both squads struggled with consistently receiving serves, Ayden-Grifton senior Cait Skinner quickly turned a 13-13 deadlock in the second game into a 19-13 margin with six-straight service points.

Rosewood rallied to tie the game at 20-20, then got within one at 24-23 before the Chargers tied the match at 1-1 when a serve by the Eagles went into the net.

The third game featured more back-and-forth play in the early and middle stages, but Skinner took serve with the game tied at 15-15 and rolled off a whopping, nine straight aces to boost A-G's advantage up to 24-15.

Behind the serving of Reinhard and several tough kills by senior Courtney Hill the Eagles came all the way back to tie it at 24-24. The Chargers answered with the last two points with the game-clincher coming on an unforced error by the Eagles to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

"I don't know if the serves were just that good, or if both teams were just struggling that bad to receive serves," Ayden-Grifton coach Kathy Frazier said. "Both teams graduated a lot of seniors last year, so I think some of it is the inexperience and youth."

Cochran urged her team to regain their focus and play as a team before the fourth game. Her team clearly listened as the home team took an early advantage of 10-5 on a strong service effort from senior Roxie Phillips, who served up four aces during the stretch.

Reinhard added a string of five aces in the middle of the set as the Eagles lead was never in jeopardy as they knotted up the match at 2-2.

"We relied on our serving a lot today," Cochran said. "Since the lost to North Lenoir last week, we haven't been quite the same. I thought our team chemistry improved in those final two matches."

The fifth and deciding game was tight again in the early stages, then a key block by Ashley Williams made it 11-8 and seemed to turn the momentum in Rosewood's favor for good. Frazier called a timeout after an ace by Williams made it 13-9, but Hill came through with a kill and a tip on the final two points to seal the game and the match.

Hill finished with 10 kills and four blocks, while Williams added four blocks and two kills. Phillips dished out 10 assists as Reinhard posted eight assists.