10/30/09 — Phoenix sweeps Dawgs

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Phoenix sweeps Dawgs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 30, 2009 1:46 PM

PRINCETON -- Princeton couldn't find a rhythm.

Raleigh Charter did.

The Phoenix clicked off a 21-2, opening-set run and rode the momentum to a 25-6, 25-19, 26-24 victory over the Dawgs on Thursday evening. The three-set sweep sets up a meeting with defending eastern champion Pender in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A volleyball playoffs.

Setter Carson Rouse dished out 36 assists among five hitters in the 1-hour, 7-minute contest. The Phoenix (17-3 overall) hasn't dropped a set in three postseason outings.

"They're solid all the way around and that's what we had heard," said Princeton coach Trudi Rast. "They work the lines and (are) a fast team, play a very past-faced game. We were slow, tense and played tight."

Tied at 4-4 in the opening set, the Phoenix took the lead for good on Lauren Naugle's kill off Rouse's quick set in the middle. Four kills later, Raleigh Charter led 10-4.

After a sideout, Raleigh Charter scored 15 of the next 16 points to claim the opening set.

"They've been good about letting things roll off (their back), not let it break them down mentally," said Rast of her team. "But it's hard to come back from something like that, especially in rally (scoring) when anything you do is a point."

Senior outside hitter Rebecca Harlan pounded out back-to-back kills off Erin Schultze's assists to put Princeton ahead 2-0 in the second set. Raleigh Charter, the western regional runner-up each of the past two seasons, answered with an 8-0 run.

The Dawgs played more aggressive at the net and touched several hits which disrupted the Phoenix's offensive system. Maegan Myers' kill and an unforced error helped Princeton tie the set at 17-17.

"(Timely blocking) did help us because it got them off their game a little when we started putting hands up at the net," said Rast. "The second and third sets we did much better and you could tell because it rattled them."

Naugle cranked out consecutive kills to put Raleigh Charter back in front 20-17. Myers stopped the short surge with a kill before the Phoenix tallied five of the final six points.

Princeton grabbed its first lead, 11-10, in the third set off Harlan's kill. Hannah Wood's ace and an unforced error stretched the lead to 13-11, and the advantage swelled to 17-13.

Locked in defensive mode, the Dawgs scrapped for every point until the Phoenix got rolling again offensively. Naugle, Madison Brown and outside hitter Toyosi Coker combined for eight kills and a block as Raleigh Charter rallied to take the match.

"We just had some tough breaks," said Rast. "We might get a little spark, get on a roll and then something crazy would happen."

It was the final match for five Princeton seniors -- Harlan, Schultze, Myers, Hannah Wood and Taylor Heath. The quintet combined for 62 victories, two Carolina Conference regular-season championships and four playoff appearances.