Spring Creek claims first-ever playoff victory
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 21, 2007 2:04 AM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- This was too easy.
Junior middle hitter Kristin Smith pounded out a match-high 22 kills and Spring Creek dismantled Weldon 25-11, 25-9, 25-6 for its first-ever postseason volleyball victory in program history on Saturday afternoon.
The Gators (15-4 overall) continue play in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs next Tuesday against either Jamesville or Southeast Halifax. The winner had not been reported to the NCHSAA by press time.
Weldon concluded the year 9-5 overall.
Anxious to erase the memory of Wednesday's disappointing loss in the Carolina Conference tournament final, Spring Creek exploded in the opening set against the Chargers. Setters Ashley Barwick and Brooke Albertson combined for three service aces during a 9-2 run.
Senior middle hitter Tasha Whitfield and Smith controlled the net, which helped extend the lead to 13-3. But Weldon, the No. 3 seed from the Tar-Roanoke Conference, refused to succumb to the Gators' pressure.
The Chargers clogged the middle on kill attempts and sent balls back over without exhausting their three hits.
"The first game was a bit of a challenge for us because in our conference we're used to teams that pass, set and hit," said Morris. "They were free-balling over on the first ball (or) second ball and we're not used to that. We had to be a little bit quicker on our toes to get those free balls."
Weldon pulled within eight points on two occasions, but lost possession on either unforced errors or sideouts. The Gators polished off the first set with a 6-0 run.
The Chargers trailed 8-5 in the second set when Smith earned a sideout off Barwick's assist. With Albertson on the service line, Spring Creek reeled off 13 consecutive points. Smith flourished during the rotation and notched six kills.
The teams traded sideouts until Weldon committed a set-ending unforced error.
In the match-clinching third set, Spring Creek raced to another comfortable lead on its first two service rotations. The Gators reeled off five- and six-point runs with Barwick and Albertson on serve, respectively. Whitfield (11 kills) also got back on track offensively during that stretch.
Weldon never answered.
Morris substituted freely throughout the final two sets to give her starters some rest and her reserves some playing time. But she realizes, along with the team, that their next opponent won't be as gracious as the Chargers.
"We'll probably see Jamesville, which has a good record (21-1), but told them not to let that scare them," said Morris. "I told them you always play your game no matter what level (of competition) you're playing."
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