10/13/10 — Controversial ending mars great contest

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Controversial ending mars great contest

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 13, 2010 1:47 PM

CALYPSO -- Rosewood's bid to repeat as the Carolina 1-A Conference volleyball champion nearly took a major hit Tuesday evening.

Somehow, the Eagles escaped.

And in controversial fashion, too.

A foot-fault violation on what appeared to be a set-tying service ace by North Duplin libero Kailey Odom turned into the match-clinching point for Rosewood. The Eagles prevailed 13-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 and remained tied with nemesis Princeton atop the league standings.

The archrivals will decide the regular-season champion and top seed for the state playoffs Thursday at Rosewood.

The heartbreaking, senior night loss squashed North Duplin's hopes of improving its postseason seed. The Rebels needed a win to put pressure on Ayden-Grifton, which secured the third spot.

"This was important to the seniors and was a very high-strung atmosphere (here) tonight," said North Duplin head coach Heather Best. "This meant something to them and I really saw a lot of heart tonight. That's a good thing and I want them to keep it going."

It was the second match in the teams' third annual "Serving Up a Cure" for cancer research series. Money collected from donations, concessions and T-shirt sales, and a silent auction benefited the Duplin County Relay for Life.

The Eagles played for teammate Chelsea Sawkiw, whose grandmother passed away during the weekend after a courageous battle with cancer. Sawkiw did not attend the match.

"It was just like at our place," said Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran. "We were both fighting for the same reason and that's cancer."

Rosewood freshman middle hitter Ellen Morgan, who was silent during the opening set, finished with a match-high 13 kills and four blocks. Senior Rachael Kornegay provided four kills and two blocks, while Laura Vinson pounded out five kills.

Alyssa Spell handed out 20 assists.

Junior middle hitter Tearra Ammons emerged the Rebels' offensive leader with 11 kills and three blocks. Ansley Hill and Hannah Brock dished out nine and eight assists, respectively.

North Duplin (7-10 overall, 4-5 CC) controlled the opening set with a strong service game. The Rebels logged eight aces, which prevented the Eagles from establishing a consistent passing game.

Rosewood (15-4, 8-1) grabbed the advantage late in the second set. Three unforced errors and Anna Ingram's solo block created a 24-21 advantage. The Rebels closed to within 24-23, but committed a serving error on set point.

The Eagles raced to a six-point lead in the third set, fell behind 23-20 and pulled off the comeback. Morgan recorded two solo blocks against Ammons and pounded out a kill to tie the set at 23-23. A North Duplin unforced error and Morgan's kill on an overpass gave Rosewood a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five affair.

"I think Ellen and Tearra both played well," said Cochran. "I think Hannah played good and maybe Ansley (Hill) was the difference in the match. Every time she stepped on the court, she produced a spark (for them)."

The Rebels seized a six-point lead during the middle stages of the fourth set, but couldn't hold on. Vinson's kill off Spell's assist fueled a 6-0 run, which led to a 20-20 deadlock.

The teams traded unforced errors before Ingram's off-speed roll put the Eagles up 24-22. North Duplin got the sideout on a service error and that's when the heated ending took place.

Odom served down the line and the ball dropped in front of a Rosewood player. The official awarded a point for the Rebels, until the linesman finally got the attention of the floor official.

She explained Odom's foot crossed the line on the serve. After a short discussion, the referees ruled sideout and awarded the match-clinching point to the Eagles.

Neither Best nor Cochran saw the violation since each coach was focused on the play. Best contended the referees couldn't overturn the call once the play was dead, but her argument fell on deaf ears.

"You can't argue with the official once he makes his final call," said Best. "It just happened to be the point that lost us the match. On the flip side, we can't get in that situation. That foot fault didn't cost us the game. Once you're up, you have to stay up (in the lead)."

Cochran felt the match shouldn't have ended in that manner.

"I don't really think we won the game and I don't think they won the game ... it wasn't really over," she said. "That's my opinion. I don't think it's fair to end like that."