10/04/13 — Rosewood, Spring Creek stage 4-set duel in volleyball

View Archive

Rosewood, Spring Creek stage 4-set duel in volleyball

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 4, 2013 1:48 PM


County rivals Rosewood and Spring Creek were "Digging for Duke's kids" on Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles dug themselves out of trouble, too.

Senior hitter Ellen Morgan pounded out a match-high 16 kills during a 21-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-16 victory over the Gators on the Carolina 1-A Conference volleyball scene. Rosewood (17-2 overall) maintained sole possession of second place in the league at 10-2.

Outside hitter Rachel McCullom, a second-year starter, cranked out 12 kills and setter Diana Carreno dished out 17 assists for youth-ladened Spring Creek. Decked out in pink T-shirts for the occasion, the Gators departed 10-5 overall and 7-5 against league opposition this season.

The sixth installment of the annual cancer awareness match raised $502 for Duke Children's Hospital. Proceeds came from baked goods sales, half of the concession stand revenue and silent-auction bids on a variety of gift baskets.

"It was such a big game for us today," Rosewood head coach Jennifer Cochran said.

It was also big for the Gators, who entered the late-season contest in a battle with Lakewood for the conference's No. 3 playoff seed. Spring Creek played with a sense of urgency early against Rosewood, but couldn't keep the momentum.

Olivia Martinez provided three consecutive kills off of assists from Diana Carreno to give Spring Creek an early advantage in the opening set. The oft-confused Eagles erased the deficit, built a five-point lead, but watched the Gators rally to take the opening set 25-21.

Cochran started a different lineup and reverted back to the normal rotation for the second set. McCullom served six of her match-high eight aces during an early 8-1 run. The Eagles discovered their rhythm behind Morgan's five kills and Ashley Thornton's two solo blocks, and seized command with a 16-3 outburst.

"I think the biggest thing is they started focusing on their errors instead of focusing on what they were doing well," SC head coach Deanna Morris said of her team's second-set breakdown. "They just got their heads down, let the momentum get away. We still have a young team (and) when one gets upset, they all start to get upset."

Two aces from Anna Ingram and Lexi Mercer's kill gave Rosewood its biggest lead, 23-13. The teams traded sideouts and the Eagles knotted the best-of-five match at 1-all on a Spring Creek hitting error.

Ingram dished out eight of her match-high 27 assists in the set.

"We started playing together as a group, which was the biggest thing," Cochran said. "It took us a couple of points to get back into the rhythm of playing that way again. I guess we haven't practiced (the new lineup) enough to use it quite yet, which I thought we were ready."

Morgan emerged the offensive leader early in the third set. Rosewood closed it out on Callie Thornton's service ace -- one of 13 served by the Eagles as a team.

The Gators held a three-point lead in the fourth set before Ashley Thornton's kill gave the Eagles a 15-14 advantage they refused to relinquish. Callie Thornton logged back-to-back kills which sealed the outcome and gave Rosewood its sixth consecutive regular-season sweep of Spring Creek since 2008.

"We have to get more mentally tough," Morris said.. "We're making mental errors. They know they can do it and I know they can do it. They have to stay focused and we didn't do that tonight."