08/25/10 — Golden Falcons sweep Bulldogs

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Golden Falcons sweep Bulldogs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 25, 2010 1:47 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Just nine days into the season, Charles B. Aycock is developing an identity on the volleyball court.

Davis Harris likes it, so far.

Aggressive, scrappy and consistent play enabled the Golden Falcons to turn back perennial 1-A power Princeton 25-22, 25-21, 25-17 on Tuesday afternoon. Aycock avenged a season-opening, five-set loss to the Bulldogs and improved to 2-1 overall.

Third-year setter Rachel Jordan distributed 31 assists among five hitters. Junior outside hitter Connor Davis pounded out a team- and match-best 13 kills, while sophomore Madison Mercer contributed nine kills and one block.

Freshman Bailee Hughes and Emily Martin logged six kills apiece. Brooke Bell added a kill, and played superb defense in the middle against Princeton's middle-hit attack.

"I'm pleased to come back and get a sweep after losing in five (sets) last week," said Harris. "(This match) we passed the ball better, were more consistent with it. These girls play hard and we're much scrappier than we were last year."

Returning starter Nicole Melvin led the Bulldogs' offense with three kills. First-year setter Linda Smith dished out 10 assists. Princeton had 34 unforced errors in the three-set affair.

Overall, three starters return off last year's team which earned a share of the Carolina 1-A Conference title and won the season-ending tournament. The Bulldogs couldn't develop an offensive rhythm, which is unusual for a team that prefers to pressure its opponent into mistakes.

"We're young and we're learning a lot each game ... more and more," said Princeton head coach Trudi Rast. "People are playing positions they haven't played and I've seen a big improvement from last week."

The teams battled through 22 ties and eight lead changes.

Princeton (3-1 overall) trailed 21-17 in the opening set and forged a 21-21 deadlock on four consecutive Aycock unforced errors. A setting error gave the Golden Falcons a sideout and led to a set-ending, 4-1 run that ended on a Bulldog miscue.

Melvin's off-speed hit off Mercer's block attempt helped Princeton grab a short-lived advantage in the second set. An error, a Melvin block and Traci Bridgers' service ace put the Bulldogs ahead 16-14.

The Golden Falcons stayed within striking distance and created a 20-20 deadlock on Hughes' kill off Jordan's assist. Martin followed with a kill and after a sideout, Aycock clinched the set with a 4-0 run on kills from Davis and Hughes.

"We went through a stretch where we didn't get any hits ... any attacks whatsoever, but we fought through it and pulled it out," said Harris of the second set. "That might not have happened in previous years. These girls showed they want to play, they want to win."

Aycock used a 9-2 run to end the match.

Hughes, Davis and Mercer combined for seven kills and Hughes delivered an ace during the decisive surge.

"I was very pleased with the way we finished," said Harris. "We were the aggressors."