09/25/09 — League rivals square off to help research

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League rivals square off to help research

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 25, 2009 1:47 PM

CALYPSO -- Locked in a defensive mode during first-half play on the Carolina 1-A Conference volleyball scene, Rosewood switched its tactics Tuesday afternoon.

Senior middle hitter Taylor Johnson pounded out 24 kills as the Eagles fended off North Duplin 25-21, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22 during match one of their second annual 'Serving' Up A Cure for cancer campaign.

Before the contest began, seniors from each school read aloud from a program the names of relatives and friends who are either living with, recently diagnosed or have passed away from cancer. Proceeds from the match and the Oct. 13 battle at Rosewood will be donated to the Kay Yow WBCA Cancer Fund.

A sparse turnout inside a sweltering gymnasium witnessed a 93-minute affair that featured offensive spurts from both teams. There were 17 ties and seven lead changes in the Carolina 1-A Conference match.

Rosewood (6-6 overall, 4-0 CC) fed off North Duplin's unforced errors and serve miscues during the opening set. Johnson controlled the net with six kills and one block as the Eagles broke a 16-16 tie with a set-ending 9-5 run.

"When you take a player as good as Taylor and set her up consistently with your bad passes, you're helping her," said North Duplin head coach Heather Best.

Johnson and fellow middle hitter Rachael Kornegay (11 kills) turned a close second set into a runaway. The duo combined for eight kills as Rosewood pulled ahead 19-10.

North Duplin sophomore middle hitter Tearra Ammons (10 kills) momentarily stopped the momentum with a kill off Hannah Brock's assist. The teams traded sideouts, but a service error gave Rosewood the second set and a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five meeting.

"We had more offense today because we usually just play defense," said Rosewood head coach Jennifer Cochran. "Taylor got to hit the ball a little bit better than usual. Our setters did better today."

Three Eagle setters -- Alyssa Spell, Chelsea Sawkiw and Stephanie Hall -- combined for 32 assists. Spell dished out a match-high 20 assists among six different hitters for Rosewood, which recorded 42 kills as a team.

The Rebels (5-5, 2-2) weathered a third-set rally with Johnson at the net. After ties at 15-15, 16-16, 17-17 and 18-18, North Duplin pulled ahead on a service error and ball-handling miscue from the Eagles' backline.

Ammons' kill in the deep left corner increased the Rebels' advantage to 21-18. Kornegay's kill created a 22-22 deadlock before North Duplin extended the match on Pate's set-clinching kill. A sophomore, Pate recorded five of her 10 kills in the third set.

"She played the best she has played all season," said Best.

North Duplin stayed within striking distance in the final set until Johnson ignited an 8-0 run with three consecutive kills and a solo block against Ammons. Laura Vinson provided two kills during that stretch as Rosewood took command and built as much as a 10-point lead.

"We ride a wave of momentum of inconsistency," said Best. "I'm proud of my girls for not quitting, but I am frustrated because I know they can play better and they know they can play better. (We) just didn't play to our potential."

Rosewood's victory sets up a first-place showdown with archrival Princeton on Tuesday.

"Princeton is going to be tough and they are a real good team," said Cochran. "Pretty much everybody in our conference can compete. We're ready to play them on Tuesday."