The Lakewood Leopards squared off against away team Rosewood Eagles in a volleyball match that was a lot closer than expected, so close that Lakewood only won by one set, 3-2.
Rosewood got off to a very strong start in the first set, leading by as much as four early on, but to no avail. Lakewood gradually chipped away at the lead and took control of the game for good at the midway point when the Leopards snatched the lead away from the Eagles, 15-14. After Lakewood went up 15-14, Rosewood head coach Jennifer Cochran wisely took a much needed timeout to attempt to get her girls back on track in order to finish the second part of the set strong, but unfortunately for Cochran and the Eagles, Lakewood instead finished strong, took the first set, and won 25-23.
However, the second set was a much different story. Despite a phenomenal start by Lakewood that included a point that took extremely long time to score, giving Lakewood a 4-2 early lead, Rosewood crushed their opponent, 25-14. The Eagles used runs of seven and eight points to achieve this set win, thwarting any Lakewood attempt to potentially come back.
The third set was the closest out of any of the sets played, it was neck and neck till at the end. This set in particular was very back and forth, with Lakewood pulling out to a quick 13-9 lead before Rosewood answered with an incredible comeback. At one point, Lakewood led 20-13. Facing a set loss would essentially end the match and put them at 4-10 on the season, Rosewood pinned their ears back and fought hard, and it paid off. The Eagles would win that exciting set 25-21, and at the time led 2-1 overall.
The fourth set involved a point that took awfully long to score. It was so suspenseful that the Rosewood head coach even ended up on the ground in exhaustion after her girls lost the point to make it 9-11. The set would be very back and forth thereafter, and Lakewood won it 25-19, making the overall score 2-2.
Lakewood took complete control of the fifth and final set, racing ahead for a 7-0 lead and would not look back thenceforth. The Leopards looked focused and strong as they used the momentum that carried over from winning the fourth set to their advantage. The final score for that set was 15-3, which made Lakewood the victors of the match, 3-2.
The win put Lakewood at 6-0 in the conference, and Lakewood head coach Sheila Davidson was very proud of that fact, but admitted that being in a position where her team only won by a set is uncomfortable, considering her girls had shutout nearly every other team they had faced prior to this game.
“We can improve on closing out games and not getting us in that position,” Davidson said.
In addition to being proud of her current conference record, Davidson was very proud of Sophomore Anna Beth Averett, who recorded a whopping 14 kills and three blocks.
“She was definitely the spark offensively, and they could not stop her all night,” she noted.
Davidson was particularly proud of the fact that, even though Averett is only a sophomore, she stepped up to the plate and delivered. Also considering Averett was injured last year and was unable to acquire a year of experience in her freshman year, it is clear why her coach is so proud of how she played.
McKinzie Davidson led the Leopards with 18 assists and three aces, Brianna Wheeler contributed 18 digs and five kills, Anna Beth Averett pounded 14 kills and three blocks. Others making big contributions are Morgan Bonner with two aces and two blocks. Alley Grace Royal had 13 kills, three aces and 10 digs. Krislyn Bullard 14 assists and five digs. Grace Hairr had 26 digs to her credit.
The loss drops the Rosewood Eagles to 4-10 and 3-3 in the conference. The Eagles play host to North Duplin on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Lakewood Leopards improve to 9-2 with the win Wednesday night and a perfect 6-0 record in conference play. Lakewood travels to James Kenan on Monday, in hopes of extending their six-game win streak to seven.