09/19/07 — Gators earn first-ever win over Eagles

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Gators earn first-ever win over Eagles

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 19, 2007 2:47 PM

Momentum in volleyball it can mean everything.

Leading Class 1-A Carolina Conference foe Rosewood two games to one, Spring Creek felt the momentum slipping away. A 17-9 lead had suddenly turned into a 20-17 deficit, and a once-tame Rosewood crowd was becoming more boisterous with every Gators' miscue.

Then, like it had all match long, the momentum shifted.

Spring Creek showed its poise and won eight of the final 11 points, including three kills from Tasha Whitfield in the decisive fourth game. The Gators prevailed 25-17, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23 and picked up their second conference win three tries.

"Our girls have played together since they were freshman," said fourth-year Spring Creek head coach Deanna Morris, who is 1-7 all-time against the Eagles. "That helped them pull together. I'm real excited they pulled it through."

Spring Creek (7-1 overall, 2-1 Carolina) dominated at the net in game one. Kristin Smith collected five of the Gators' nine kills as they turned a slim 17-16 margin into a 24-17 cushion.

With her team on top 14-8 midway through game two, Smith turned her ankle while attempting a kill. She left the game for several minutes, and without her the Gators simply weren't the same.

Rosewood took control and the momentum.

The Eagles won 16 of the next 21 points, while Taylor Johnson was busy dishing out five kills. Ashley Williams also had a pair of aces during that stretch, while Smith was forced to watch. Rosewood took a 25-20 win.

"I think we just realized that we could do it, that we could actually play with them," Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran said. "I thought Taylor Johnson did really, really well. She stepped up. They just really talked and backed each other up."

With the opportunity to take control of the match in game three, Rosewood (3-6, 0-3) saw the momentum slip away in the form of 16 costly mistakes.

"When you had the momentum you scored," Cochran said. "That was a big, big thing. Volleyball is a game of momentum anyway. I thought we did a better job of keeping the momentum for a long period of time tonight."

Meanwhile, Smith returned to the court to deliver three kills. Whitfield also had two kills, a block and an ace in game three. But it was Rosewood's miscues, which decided four of the last five points, that ultimately led to a 25-18 loss.

"(Mistakes) was a big part of it," Cochran said. "We fed Spring Creek real well and we set them up in the middle a lot. But, we stayed in every game and we're learning.

"We're getting better and better. This is the best game we've played all year."

Smith finished with 12 kills and an ace, while Whitfield tallied eight kills, an ace and a block.

Johnson ended the match with 13 kills, four aces and a block.

Each team continues league play Thursday. Spring Creek visits North Johnston and Rosewood is the guest of North Duplin.