10/12/07 — Spring Creek clinches share of CC title

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Spring Creek clinches share of CC title

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on October 12, 2007 3:28 PM

CALYPSO -- Two days ago, Spring Creek's volleyball team walked off the court in tears.

Thursday night, they exited with smiles and hugs.

The Gators clinched their first-ever share of the Carolina 1-A Conference title with a 25-18, 25-14, 25-20 victory over North Duplin. North Johnston (15-5) will share the league crown with the Gators since both teams posted 7-3 conference records.

The victory all but erased Spring Creek's painful memories of its loss in five games to North Johnston on Tuesday.

"It feels so much better," said senior Brandi Simpkins of the win. "That was a heart-breaking loss, but tonight feels really good."

The Gators join the tennis program as the only other girl's sport in school history to win a conference title. They also set a new standard for victories in a season with 13.

"The program has really come a long way," said Spring Creek's fourth-year coach Deanna Morris. "These girls have been hard working and dedicated and its paid off."

Early on, the Gators showed through their play that they wanted to avoid a repeat performance of the North Johnston match. Spring Creek built a 17-8 lead in game one, but had to withstand a late North Duplin rally.

The Rebels' lone senior, Heather Hudson, had six kills and a block in the game to keep things close. North Duplin got to within 24-18 before Kristin Smith finished the game with a kill for the Gators.

The second game wouldn't be as close. Spring Creek raced out to a 12-2 lead and coasted to a 25-14 win.

"The girls played very well tonight," said Morris. "We played together and weren't as nervous as we were on Tuesday against North Johnston."

Some of those nerves may have crept in during the third game. Just like on Tuesday, a conference title was in the Gators' sight.

With the magnitude of the situation undoubtedly creeping into the girls' minds, North Duplin took advantage. The Rebels grabbed their first lead of the night and built it to 7-4.

The Gators regained their composure and went on a 17-3 run to take a 21-10 lead. During the spurt, Kristin Smith contributed three kills and Hanna Hall added an ace.

North Duplin refused to go away and fought back. Kills by Hudson and Sam Cates pulled the Rebels to within 23-14.

The Rebels mini spurt turned into seven-straight points to cut the 11-point Gators' lead to three at 23-20.

"We did play better in the third game," said North Duplin coach Heather Best. "The rest of the night, we just could never get a rhythm. It's tough."

Two misplays by North Duplin gave the game and the match to Spring Creek. The Gators traded hand slaps and hugs while their coach grinned from ear to ear.

"It feels great," said Morris. "It feels good to have girls that have listened to you and done everything they can to get this.

"We're a close team. We're like a family."

In her final home game, Hudson led the Rebels (6-8, 4-6 CC) with 10 kills and a block.

"Heather's been amazing," said Best. "She started as a freshman and got put into the spotlight early. She's a tremendous ball player with tons of heart. I'm going to hate to lose her."

Spring Creek got 10 kills and four aces from Smith. Simpkins chipped in with four kills and two aces.

"Tonight means so much, especially being a senior," said Simpkins. "It's so exciting. This program has grown so much since I've been here."