10/29/11 — Lakewood eliminates Princeton from 1-A volleyball playoffs

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Lakewood eliminates Princeton from 1-A volleyball playoffs

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 29, 2011 11:05 PM

PRINCETON -- Princeton's eight seniors can walk away from their respective volleyball careers knowing they truly left everything they had on the floor Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs displayed the resolve they've demonstrated all year and rode the emotion of a capacity home crowd. They rallied from two sets down to force a fifth set, but had their season come to an end in a 25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 15-25, 15-9 loss to Lakewood in the fourth round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs.

The Leopards (23-3 overall) used their size advantage and aggressive hitters to find holes in the Bulldogs' defense like no other opponent has all season.

Lakewood got three kills from Morgan Herring to take a 13-10 lead in set one. Two kills and an off-speed hit from Zanna Faircloth increased the margin to 22-17. Jache' Servance's ace and a Princeton error closed out the set.

Faircloth hammered out four kills as the Leopards built an 11-10 advantage in the second set. Two kills from Amber Hill and Savanna Massengill's kill put Princeton in front 17-16. The Bulldogs led 23-21 before a service error, Faircloth's kill, her off-speed hit and Teisha Rich's off-speed hit gave Lakewood a two-set advantage.

"Lakewood had awesome hits," Bulldogs' head coach Paige Renfrow said. "There's things that you just can't dig and you have to clap for the other team and say, 'that's a good job.' I'm proud of my girls. They've fought tooth and nail to get where they are."

Renfrow encouraged her team in between sets and Princeton (21-3) responded by taking a 14-10 lead in set three on Hannah Woodard's kill off Linda Smith's assist. Massengill's kill off Smith's assist stretched the advantage to 22-15. The Leopards were plagued by miscues down the stretch and the crowd roared as the Bulldogs pulled to within two sets to one.

Hill pounded out five kills as Princeton grabbed an 11-9 lead early in the fourth set. Faircloth's kill evened the score at 15-15. Hill and Massengill both supplied kills as the Bulldogs tied the best-of-five match at two sets apiece.

Hill finished with 12 kills and Massengill had nine.

"They just wanted it so hard and they fought until the end," Renforw said. "They knew that it was a hard match. They just pushed and pushed and pushed. I told my girls (when we were down 2-0) that this was it. They had to push through and I heard Megan Gerrell say, 'you've got to have heart, you've got to have heart to finish.'"

Faircloth delivered three kills early in the decisive fifth set as Lakewood took a 6-2 lead. Princeton climbed to within 12-8 on two kills from Megan Gerrell and Massengill's kill. The Bulldogs struggled with unforced errors throughout the fifth set, and kills from Faircloth and Herring ended the match.

"Our eight seniors were eight big, strong team players," Renfrow said. 'They held it together and fought for everything. It makes a difference when you have that senior leadership from all of them and not just one of them."