10/26/11 — Princeton moves into 3rd round

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Princeton moves into 3rd round

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 26, 2011 1:48 PM

PRINCETON -- Take a deep breath.

Play your game.

Feed off the crowd.

Princeton did all of these things and overcame a first-set loss in a 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 victory over Pamlico in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state volleyball playoffs.

The Bulldogs visit Coastal Plains tri-champion Dixon on Thursday.

Princeton fell behind 18-13 in the opening set before two kills from Hannah Woodard and Megan Gerrell's kill created a 20-20 tie.

Kara Cayton pounded out a key kill and the Bulldogs fought off a set point before Darian Roberts closed the set with a kill.

Princeton (20-2 overall) fed off Pamlico errors and a boisterous crowd while building a 21-11 lead in the second set. The Hurricanes (19-8) pulled to within 21-17 on Kerri Taylor's ace. Robert's kill cut the margin to 23-22. Amber Hill's kill and Nicole Melvin's off-speed hit finished off set two.

"After all the emotions coming into the second round they had to get all those first-game jitters out of the way and play their ball," Bulldogs' head coach Page Renfrow said. "They just have to get into it. Our crowd is a big advantage to have your fans to keep you pumped. The energy is just huge to uplift the girls."

Princeton erased an 18-16 deficit in the third set. Hill delivered a pair of critical kills and Savanna Massengill added a kill to give the Bulldogs a two sets to one advantage. Hill finished with a team-high 15 kills to go with three aces and a block.

"After the game on Saturday I was noticing on the block Amber hits cross every time so they were blocking her cross," Renfrow said. "On Monday at practice I said, 'Amber we're going to make a small adjustment. After you've hit cross a few times turn your shoulders and hit line.' She listens and can focus on it and get it right in."

Hill pounded out three consecutive kills as Princeton grabbed a 9-5 lead in the final set. Massengill's block and Hill's ace pushed the lead to 14-8. The Bulldogs relentlessly covered the floor in the final set as Hurricanes' hitters struggled to find holes to put away kills. Katlyn Peedin and Hannah Woodard each recorded 16 digs. Gerrell and Ashleigh Mayes both had six digs.

"I told them before the game they were going to have strong hitters and we're going to play our defense like we always do," Renfrow said. "Whenever we see where they're going to hit consistently then we're going to adjust. Our girls are so good at listening to where the hitters go and they're just a well oiled machine."

Melvin contributed three kills down the stretch and Massengill's kill finished the match. Massengill and Melvin both had seven kills. Gerrell and Woodard each had five kills.

"It's such a great relief that I'm not just depending on one person," Princeton setter Linda Smith said. "We don't have one great player, we're hitters all around. We want to go all the way so bad. We put forth effort and it's all working out."