10/07/11 — Grace-Raleigh sweeps Eagles in CCC 1-A finale

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Grace-Raleigh sweeps Eagles in CCC 1-A finale

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 7, 2011 1:48 PM

Senior night emotions.

A conference title at stake.

A phenomenal hitter across the net.

Wayne Christian just couldn't put it all together in its regular-season finale against Carolina Christian 1-A Conference foe Grace Christian of Raleigh on Thursday evening. Junior hitter Lydia Rooth cranked out a match-high 16 kills in a 25-17, 25-14, 25-20 victory inside Clifford Gymnatorium.

Grace Christian (20-3 overall, 9-0 CC) clinched the league's top seed for the season-ending conference tournament, which begins next Tuesday. A Wayne Christian triumph would have created a three-way for the CCC crown, but the Eagles (16-5, 7-2) will enter tournament play as the No. 3 seed.

Cresset Christian is the No. 2 seed.

The tournament champion earns the automatic bid to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs. However, Grace Christian is a 2-A school playing its final season in the CCC and should receive an at-large selection for its playoff bracket.

"I'm proud of my girls," said Wayne Christian head coach Rick Moore. "I told them they played their hearts out, gave it all they had. We're hungry, anxious ... would love to play them again tomorrow if we could."

Four WCS seniors -- Haley Greenwood, Jessica Swets, Britney O'Hara and Carly Hightower -- battled in their regular-season home finale. O'Hara pounded out 15 kills, while Swets contributed four kills and two solo blocks. Greenwood and Hightower played strong defensively throughout the afternoon.

Wayne Christian hit a paltry .038 for the match. The Eagles struggled with their serve receive and could never develop a consistent rhythm in transition.

"Their ability to serve short and serve long, mixing it up really worked us over," said Moore. "That was a big difference. (Rooth) is just an all-around good player. But there were times when we gave them fits as well. We've got some work to do."

Grace Christian capitalized on numerous transition balls and profited from 20 WCS hitting errors. Rooth delivered eight kills in the opening set with no errors.

Moore did discover a possible strategy if the teams meet again in the CCC championship match at tournament host Trinity of Durham-Chapel Hill. Swets started in the front row in the third set and matched up well against Rooth, who was forced to attempt more attacks from the back row.

"When we did that, we played a lot better," said Moore.