PRINCETON — Princeton is hoping to go even deeper in the state 1A volleyball tournament than it did last year in coach Paige Renfrow’s first season.
And with the way the Bulldogs have been playing, they may do just that.
Princeton dominated visiting Midway in their second-round match on Tuesday, trailing only once by one point in a 25-12, 25-18, 25-21 sweep of the Raiders.
It was Princeton’s 14th straight victory after a 1-6 start.
So the Bulldogs, champions of the Carolina 1A Conference will take their 15-6 mark into Thursday’s home match against Coastal Plains champion Southwest Onslow (17-4), looking for a victory that will equal the number of tournament wins the Bulldogs got last season. Southwest Onslow blasted Carolina runner-up Rosewood in three sets on Tuesday.
“I was very pleased with how our girls started out strong and finished strong,” Renfrow said. “They played as a team. We were covering holes when Midway tried to put it in spots. We dug the holes, and when we returned we put it in spots where they couldn’t return.
“It was just a strong match. I worked my bench to come in and get our momentum back. Jasmine Bombard came in on (Kaitlyn Jackson’s) hard serve and made an awesome pass. It was a good win. We’re just trying to live up to what we did last year.”
Midway’s only lead at any point was its 1-0 lead to start the second set. Princeton went ahead for good at 6-5 in the first set, making it a blowout by taking the lead from 13-7 to 19-8 on Amber Hill’s serve.
The Bulldogs led 8-1 on Lauren Woodard’s serving run in the second. They then took a 5-0 lead to start the third on Taylor Carroll’s serve, but Midway came back for ties at 11-11 and 17-17 before the hosts escaped.
“We had a couple of good moments and a couple of ‘off’ moments,” said Midway coach Heather Johnson, whose team finished 12-11. “A couple of times we just let the ball hit the floor. When we were coming back, the third game was much better. At least we won one match in the state tournament this year, so that’s improvement.”
Senior Hill had 11 kills and three blocks for the Bulldogs, while Savanna Massengill had eight kills.
“I think we were good overall,” Hill said. “They came at us hard but we got the points we needed and shut them down. We’re young, but we’re pulling together. We’re good, and we’re playing well together.”
Jenna Woodard had 10 digs for Princeton, while Carroll had seven digs and five kills.
“We always play hard and together,” Massengill said. “We kind of let up some a couple of times, but we played well together. We just have to stay focused and keep working hard for the big picture.”
If Princeton keeps winning, the Bulldogs could play the entire state tournament on their home court, except the championship Nov. 3 at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.