GARNER — Even against the best opposition in the Greater Neuse River 4A, Garner keeps making it look easy.
Kristen Powell had 16 kills while Courtney Weathersbee had 27 assists and eight service aces, leading the Trojans to a 25-19, 25-13, 25-20 win over No. 2 seed West Johnston in the championship game of the conference volleyball tournament Wednesday night.
It was the 51st straight victory against GNRC opposition for the Trojans (21-3), which will take the conference’s top seed into the first round of the NCHAAA State 4A Tournament in a home game on Saturday.
West (24-6) has the conference’s No. 2 seed for the state playoffs and will also host a first-round playoff match Saturday.
“Volleyball is a game where you’re going to make a lot of errors, and the other team can get hot,” Garner coach Jason Boyette said. “But we did a good job of not letting that happen tonight.
“We pulled away in the teens in every game. West is a scrappy team – they’ve got hitters and they can pass. We just seemed to get great hits from everybody.”
Garner won all 51 sets in its 17 matches against conference opposition this season.
West went 11-3 in conference play during the regular season, losing only at No. 3 seed Clayton on the Comets’ Senior Night besides the two losses to Garner.
“I thought Garner was very beatable tonight,” West coach Jerry Hogan said. “But Kristen (Powell) had some great moments and big swings that just took the air out of us. She hits the ball hard. We know it’s coming. We wanted to do more with our block, but she was hitting right over it.
“They scored a lot of points by doing the little things right. And Courtney Weathersbee did a great job with her serve.”
Garner solidified the lead in the first set with six straight serves from Elena Mast, whose stretch ended with the score 19-14. The Trojans never looked back in the second after Madison Stewart served four straight before being broken at 11-8.
“I think my block is pretty good, and I go up with a lot of power,” said Powell, who will play at UNC Wilmington next year. “Our team has such great chemistry and we just bounce off each other. When we get frustrated we shake it off pretty quickly.”
In the third set Weathersbee served nine straight before being broken at 20-14.
“I’ve always liked serving,” Weathersbee said. “It’s the best part of my game, because I can’t get kills. That’s how I get my kills.
“We just try to flow and take over matches and don’t let anything stop us. We’re all competitive and really don’t like to lose.”
Kelsey Bryan had seven kills for Garner, followed by six from Kaasha Jefferies and five from Sarah Pierce.
Shannon Bolyard had 13 digs for West. Eboni Robinson, Halle Eicher and Megan Gibbons had six kills apiece for the Wildcats.
“Overall we were pretty good, but we had some moments when we got down in serve/receive and couldn’t pass it up,” West senior Danielle Myers said. “We know they’re a challenge, and when we play them we feel we can beat them, but we always come up short.”