09/27/06 — Archrivals meet Ñ Princeton snaps Rosewood's league win streak

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Archrivals meet Ñ Princeton snaps Rosewood's league win streak

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 27, 2006 2:26 PM

PRINCETON -- All signs pointed to a tightly-contested battle between Rosewood and Princeton heading into Tuesday's Class 1-A Carolina Conference volleyball showdown.

After all, the archrivals came in with a combined overall record of 24-3 and each had a 4-0 league mark. On top of that, the Eagles entered the match with a 14-game winning streak against conference foes in regular-season play dating back to last season -- adding more fuel to the rivalry.

The senior-laden Bulldogs (13-2, 5-0 Carolina) snapped Rosewood's lengthy run with a hard-nosed 26-24, 21-25, 26-24, 25-21 victory to take sole possession of first in the conference race heading into the second half of the season.

"We knew going in that they (Rosewood) were a very good team," Princeton coach Trudi Rast said. "We had to keep fighting hard to keep our record ... we wanted to go 5-0."

The Eagles (12-2 overall), the reigning regular season and tournament champs, slipped to 4-1 in the league, but despite the loss Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran was pleased with her team's performance.

"We're fine. The girls realize that the season is not over, and I think we're back to playing at the level we were at a month ago," she said. "They beat us in four games, but the games were tight. We played well, and we can learn from this."

The game featured 32 ties and numerous lead changes as the two teams consistently matched each other point-for-point.

Princeton's ability to finish down the stretch proved to be the difference.

Save a run of untimely unforced errors in the second game -- won by Rosewood 25-21 -- the Bulldogs consistently defended against Rosewood's attack and took advantage of free-ball opportunities.

With the match tied at 1-1, the Eagles led the crucial third game 24-22 after a carrying violation by the home team. Rast quickly called a timeout -- urging her team to maintain their composure -- and it seemed to pay off as Princeton won four-straight points to claim the third game 26-24.

Kortnie Yutzy served on the final three points as teammate Stephanie Daughtry, who finished with 11 kills and 15 digs, posted two kills to close out the game.

"That third game was very big," Rast said. "That gave us momentum going into the fourth game, especially since we came from behind. We stayed focused and came through."

Rosewood led the fourth set as late as 19-17 after a tip by Courtney Hill before Princeton went on a game-clinching run. Aided by a handful of unforced miscues by the Eagles and an ace by Cynthia Peedin, the Bulldogs won eight of the last 10 points to take the fourth and decisive game 25-21.

Senior Brittany Davis finished with 32 assists and 12 digs for Princeton and believed defense was a big key to the win.

"Defense was very important," said Davis, one of seven seniors. "We knew they liked to attack the corners, so we had to play well in the back. We played like a team ... everybody was at the top of their game."

The Bulldogs' biggest leads of the match came in the first game as they jumped out to an early 9-4 edge, then later led by as much as 15-7 after a tip by Yutzy. With Kasie Braswell at the service line, Rosewood stormed back to take a 17-16 advantage.

From there, the first game and the last three matches, proved to be a back-and-forth struggle. Princeton took the lead for good in the first game at 18-17 and never trailed again despite two forced ties by Rosewood at 19-19 and 24-24.

The ability to keep serve paced the visitors in game two as Taylor Johnson had a seven-point run, while Aubrey Reinhard added seven points on serve in two trips to the line. An ace by Reinhard, who also had 12 assists, gave the Eagles a 23-18 margin. An ace by Hill finished off the second game at knotted up the match at 1-1.

Hill led Rosewood up front with 11 kills, while Ashley Williams and Braswell combined for eight kills. Roxie Phillips added seven assists for the Eagles, who travel to Ayden-Grifton on Thursday to open the second half of the Carolina campaign.

In a balanced effort up front, Shanice Williams, Sarah Gibbs and Cynthia Peedin complimented Daughtry's effort with a combined 12 kills. Yutzy contributed 13 digs.

"They did a great job of executing," Cochran said of Princeton's effort. "They've got very good athletes, and they played together as a group. I thought No. 2 (Davis) did a great job of talking to the team the entire game."

Princeton takes on Spring Creek in Seven Springs on Thursday.