09/14/07 — Rosewood drops heartbreaker

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Rosewood drops heartbreaker

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on September 14, 2007 3:02 PM

Youth-laden Rosewood found itself in a dogfight with Class 1-A Carolina Conference rival North Johnston on Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles led 2-1 in the best-of-five match, but took a hard hit in game four. Setter Paige Babb became overheated and retired to the bench. Without her in the middle, the Panthers took game four and the match -- 15-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 15-8.

Rosewood (3-5 overall) fell to 0-2 in conference play.

"(When Paige) went out of the game that was a big, big shift," said Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran. "In the fourth game she got too hot and felt like she was going to pass out."

In the fourth game, the Panthers overcame an early 4-1 deficit and rattled off 14 of the next 15 points to grab a commanding 15-5 lead. Rosewood never recovered.

After the game four win, North Johnston wasted no time in grabbing a lead in the final game. Kills by Olivia Pope, Kayla Whitley and Brittany Keene helped give the Panthers a 9-3 lead.

Miscommunication and mental errors plagued the Eagles.

"I think it goes back to having our setter out," said Cochran. "When you have a piece of the starting lineup that's not in there, you're going to have one of those things where communication isn't as smooth as it should be."

Back-to-back kills by Ashley Williams pulled Rosewood to within five at 12-7. Two more critical mistakes and a final kill by Keene gave the match to the Panthers.

"It could've gone either way today," said Cochran. "I don't think there was one team more dominant than the other. It was just a shift in momentum."

Early on, Rosewood had the momentum. The Eagles busted out of the gate with eight straight points -- three coming on aces by Babb -- to grab the early 8-0 lead in game one.

The exact opposite occurred in game two as North Johnston jumped out to an early 8-1 lead. Rosewood battled back and gained a 20-19 advantage following an ace by Caroline Tart.

The Panthers rebounded and scored six of the final seven points to win 25-21.

Game three was as tightly contested as the previous. With neither team able to distance itself, Rosewood got aggressive play from its youngest member -- Taylor Johnson. The sophomore supplied three kills an ace and a block to help the Eagles grab a 2-1 advantage.

Johnson finished with a team-high 11 kills, eight digs and four blocks.

"Taylor really stepped up," said Cochran. "She was really a leader on the court today."

Another bright spot in the match was the play of the Eagles lone senior, Williams, who recorded six digs and five kills.

"We're young," said Cochran. "I've lost 13 players in the past two years. It's a big rebuilding year for us. "We're getting a lot better from where we were to where we are now.

"We're making little improvements and by the end of the season we should be alright."

Rosewood plays North Lenoir on Monday.