Warriors win TIC title
MERRY HILL n Champions n again.
Lawrence Academy defended their regular-season title here Thursday by winning the Tarheel Independent Conference tournament.
The Lady Warriors survived a five-set thriller with Albemarle School in the semi-finals to meet second seed Ridgecroft School in the finals.
Despite sweeping the Lady Rams, the Warriors were pushed in all three games before pulling out the TIC win over the only team in the conference to have handed them a loss in the regular season.
“My girls set goals before the beginning of the year and one of those was winning the conference tournament,” first-year Lawrence coach Dr. Ed Clouse said. “Throughout the whole match, I kept reminding them that we hadn’t won anything yet.
“We got out to a one-game lead the last time against Ridgecroft and they came back and beat us,” he added. “I wanted to make sure they knew we hadn’t won anything until match point.”
Ridgecroft coach Nancy Brittenham said things just didn’t go well for her club.
“I don’t think we played the way we’re capable of playing,” she said. “I think we’re very evenly matched. It just wasn’t our day. They out played us, it’s as simple as that.”
Brittenham said Kendall Street and Jenna Griffin both had outstanding matches and helped lead Lawrence to the win.
Things started well for the Lady Rams in the first game as Whitney Liverman opened the match with a kill to give Ridgecroft the early lead.
Neither team could hold momentum, however, as the score remained within one point for either team.
The league’s two best players n Jenna Griffin of Lawrence and Jo Revelle Murray of Ridgecroft n were featured early in the match with Griffin getting a dig that saved a point for the Warriors and Murray having a point-winning tip.
Ridgecroft finally got a little cushion when, behind Murray’s serve, they took a 10-7 lead when Megan Coker’s tip scored for the Rams.
Lawrence came right back, however, with senior Ashley Swain rolling off seven points while getting a pair of kills from tournament Most Valuable Player Kendall Street and one point on which Kathryn Taylor had both a dig and a kill as Lawrence took a 15-10 lead.
That spurt was all it took for the Warriors as they maintained the five-point cushion through the rest of the game. Kate Hodges got into the action with a tip and a kill while Debbie Stotesbury added a dig for the Warriors who went on to a 25-17 win.
Lawrence got out to the early advantage in game number two when Street’s kill and three serving points from Stotesbury gave them a 4-1 lead.
Ridgecroft came back, however when Victoria Brown had consecutive serving points thanks in part to a kill off the hands of Lauren Lilley.
Lawrence answered the rally with one of their own when Street had a kill and then served four consecutive points, including an ace. Griffin had a kill on the run as the Warriors took an 11-5 lead.
The Lady Rams then got a kill from Coker to end the spurt and three straight points off the serve of Kendra Godwin to get within 11-9. Murray and Lilley each had kills during the spurt.
Lawrence went ahead 15-9, but Coker again stopped the run with a kill. She had a tip and Murray served two points to get the score within 15-12.
The score stayed within a few points with Lawrence eventually grabbing a 21-15 edge.
A defensive stop for the Lady Rams followed by a kill from Shirley Lee Spruill and six consecutive points on the serve of Brown gave the Rams the lead. During the stretch, Coker had a tip and a kill as Ridgecroft grabbed a 22-21 lead.
Lawrence rallied to deadlock the score at 23-all thanks to a kill from Hodges as the Warriors edged to a 25-23 win.
Ridgecroft came out early in the third game, getting consecutive aces from Coker to start the match before a Brown kill made it 3-0.
Lawrence evened the game at six-all thanks to kills from Street, Griffin and Taylor.
Ridgecroft edged back ahead (9-7) thanks to Spruill’s serve and kills from Coker and Keli Martin.
The Warriors, however, came back to deadlock the score behind Swain’s serve and a block from Taylor.
Neither team could muster more than a two-point advantage until Lawrence had a three-point run behind the serve of Swain.
Taylor’s block and Street’s kill pushed Lawrence’s advantage to 19-15.
A Brown kill got Ridgecroft back into the match at 20-17, but Lawrence again had a run thanks to a kill be street to go ahead 23-17.
Brown’s kill ended the stretch and Lilley rolled off three points on her serve, thanks in part to a Murray kill to make it 23-21.
A defensive stop for the Warriors gave them match point, but Ridgecroft didn’t quit. A Coker kill and a point off Brown’s serve got them within 24-23, but a defensive stop for Lawrence secured the tournament win.
After the tournament, Street was named tournament MVP. Joining her on the All-Tournament team were Griffin and Hodges. Ridgecroft’s Murray, Coker and April Piland also made the All-Tournament team.
“It was scary how well and how hard Kendall hit the ball,” Clouse said. “She hit harder than most of the guys I played against in Division III volleyball.”