09/19/08 — Carolina 1-A contest adds new meaning

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Carolina 1-A contest adds new meaning

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 19, 2008 12:50 PM

Volleyball rivals Rosewood and North Duplin battled for more than a Class 1-A Carolina Conference victory Thursday afternoon.

They played for their respective communities, their friends and family members who have passed away or beaten cancer. The Eagles' Nest took on a pink hue as ribbons dotted one wall recognizing those who have been affected by the disease.

North Duplin won the match 25-17, 25-16, 7-25, 25-21 and evened its Carolina 1-A Conference slate at 2-2.

Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran, who lost three relatives to cancer, spearheaded the idea to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Dollar bills and coins nearly overflowed from donation buckets carried by various Eagle players around the gymnasium.

Fans kept concession stand workers busy as more than $500 was raised. When the teams meet again Oct. 7 in Calypso, they'll play for the same cause.

"I think sometimes you have so much to play for and kids just don't understand that passion," said Cochran. "This is just a passion I have."

North Duplin (4-4 overall) reeled off 14 service aces in the first two games combined, and grabbed a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five contest. Skylar McCarty delivered six aces, while Angelica Favela contributed three aces.

Rosewood (4-6, 2-2 CC) competed with a different lineup during that stretch and couldn't generate an offensive attack.

"I started mixing things up because we're trying to get more power on the front row when Taylor (Johnson) is on the back row because that's when we're losing points," said Cochran. "We had two girls who just couldn't serve receive beside each other. We struggled the first two games."

Cochran reverted to her regular lineup in game three and the Eagles dominated. Johnson pounded out four of her match-high 17 kills as Rosewood seized a 6-1 lead behind servers Caroline Tart and Megan Church.

North Duplin earned a sideout at 10-5 on Sam Cates' kill off Felicia Lynch's assist, but could get no closer. Rosewood answered with a back-breaking 14-0 run, including five aces by Jennifer Hall.

"We fell apart," said sixth-year Rebels head coach Heather Best. "I don't know if they thought they had (already) won the game. Some of the younger players kept saying 'we've got this' and I said 'no, you don't'.

"You've got to take three games to 25 (points to win) or more, if it takes that."

Johnson collected five kills and served three aces as Rosewood opened game four with a 14-5 run. The Rebels' Tearra Ammons halted the run with a solo block against Paige Babb.

"When we make errors, Rosewood is really good at eating us alive," said Best. "Overpassed balls, Taylor was there and did what she was supposed to ... is so good at doing. I think after a couple of spankings she gave us, they realized this girl is out for blood."

North Duplin slowly resuscitated its heartbeat as the game progressed. Katie Swanzey connected on a kill off Lynch's assist, and Cates added one kill, one block and one ace as the Rebels climbed within 16-14.

Back-to-back kills from Cates put North Duplin in front 17-16. Four sideouts later, the Rebels seized control on Favela's ace. Swanzey served an ace at 24-20 and Ammons' solo block against Babb ended the match.

"The fourth game was just heart," said Cochran. "I thought we played equal the third game and fourth game. It's just passion, not anything you can teach at that point.

"They've got to come out with a little more fire."