Cougars get conference tourney win
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 18, 2011 1:48 PM
CALYPSO -- The restoration project of Goldsboro's volleyball program took another historic turn Monday evening.
It nearly left head coach TJ Lancaster on the verge of tears.
The Cougars swept Ayden-Grifton 25-20, 25-17, 25-20 in the quarterfinals of the Carolina 1-A Conference tournament. It was the first conference tournament victory in program history.
"I'm just proud of them," said an emotional Lancaster. "They've done something that to my knowledge Goldsboro has never done. This says Goldsboro's here and we're not going away. Now, I think that stigma is off of us.
"People will say, 'it's Goldsboro, we've got to be ready."
Goldsboro took a 13-8 lead in the opening set on Brandy Johnson's kill off Ana Harris' assist. Sydney Hendricks' ace pushed the Chargers in front 19-18 before the Cougars won seven of the final eight points of the set. Harris served an ace and Kasheika Wallace delivered three key blocks down the stretch.
"This season when we win the first one we get that confidence," said Lancaster. "It propels us. The first one is always big. I felt better a little bit. I said, 'OK, here we go, we're ready.'"
Johnson pounded out five kills in the second set as Goldsboro built a 19-11 advantage. Ayden-Grifton closed to within 21-15 but kills from Harris and Wallace helped the Cougars take a two-set lead.
The Chargers responded and jumped out to an 8-1 lead early in the third set. Morgan Bell recorded a pair of aces and middle hitter Kelsey Jones hammered out a kill. Goldsboro battled back and fed off Ayden-Grifton errors.
Harris' kill cut the deficit to 13-12 and Latrice Burgess' ace gave the Cougars a 17-15 cushion.
"Winning that third set was very important," said Lancaster. "No time do you give a good team extra chances. Ayden-Grifton is a great team and you cannot give them extra chances. In the past we would have gotten down. Not right now.
"They held their heads up high, they just methodically worked their way back. I'm very proud of them."
Harris, Niki Tyler and Yunely Lares each supplied a kill to close out the match. Johnson finished with a team-high seven kills and Harris added six.
The Cougars (9-12 overall) continue tournament play today at regular-season champion Princeton. First serve is 7 p.m.
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