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First Baptist sweeps past Sweethaven

PORTSMOUTH – First Baptist Christian’s girls volleyball team cruised through its easiest match of the season on Tuesday with a three-game sweep at Sweethaven Christian, 25-23, 25-18, 25-22.

“(Sweethaven) drubbed us in every sport last year,” said First Baptist volleyball coach and athletic director Joe Cockrell, “it was a real joy to play like this against them. They’ve lost some players from last year’s team, but our girls have come a long, long way.”

First Baptist’s volleyball history is still very young, as this is the first full varsity season for the Crusaders sports teams within the Eastern Virginia Athletic Conference. Eleventh grade is the oldest class at First Baptist and the Lady Crusader squad has three juniors.

While First Baptist swept the home-standing Lady Lions, the first and third games of the match were in doubt down to the final point.

In the opening game, a 7-1 First Baptist run changed an early Sweetbrier lead into a 14-11 First Baptist lead. The Lady Lions tied the game at 14 before setter Abby Edwards and tall hitter Becca Ballance combined for a good set and spike.

On the next point, Ballance dug a hard Lady Lion hit and Abby Edwards tapped the ball over on two for the point. An ace by Ballance made it 17-14 Lady Crusaders.

First Baptist held a narrow 22-21 lead after a side out and Meghan Farmer was subbed into the match for the first time to serve for the Lady Crusaders. Farmer served one ace, then another good serve which set up a soft Sweethaven return and a kill by Ballance at the center of the net. Sweethaven fought off two game points before a bad serve gave First Baptist a 25-23 win.

The Lady Crusaders moved out to a 15-5 lead in game two. Abby Edwards had two kills and Abby Cockrell served a pair of aces early in the game. Danielle Edwards’ setting added to First Baptist’s offense and Tiffany Stancil’s serving was key.

“She’s a new player for us, this is her first year playing, but she had five big serves for us in the second game,” said Cockrell.

“I have 10 girls that do exactly what I ask them to do. They are like pieces of a puzzle how they fit together.”

In games two and three, Stancil coming off the bench, as well as Christine Joslin and Victoria Carr, contributed as soon as they came onto the court.

Sweethaven led 15-10 in the final game before First Baptist rallied to take the lead at 21-20 on an ace by Joslin. Farmer served a long stretch during the run that drew First Baptist back and Carr played all of game three, then served for points 23 and 24.

Abby Cockrell and Ballance led the Lady Crusaders with six kills each. Danielle Edwards finished with five assists.

First Baptist (2-2) hosts Summit Christian on Friday at 6 p.m.