Garner tops Clayton for 54th straight conference match

cbest@newsobserver.comSeptember 4, 2013 

— Ka’asha Jefferies was on fire and her teammates, particularly senior setter Courtney Weathersbee, knew it. So Jefferies kept getting the volleyball Tuesday night in the fifth set of Garner’s Greater Neuse River 4A Conference match against Clayton.

Jefferies’ finish to a record-breaking night helped Garner win, 25-19, 23-25, 29-27, 23-25, 15-3, and extend its winning streak against conference opponents to 54 straight.

The senior outside hitter/libero notched kills on five of the Trojans’ first six points in the fifth game.

“The rule in volleyball is, when you have somebody on fire, you feed them,” Jefferies said. “Courtney kept setting it great so I kept hitting it.”

Jefferies finished with 28 kills on the night, breaking the school record for a match previously held by current UNC-Wilmington freshman Kristen Powell. Seven of those came as Garner (7-1, 3-0 conference) built an 11-1 lead in the fifth with aces by Gabrielle Lee providing the other four points during that stretch.

“Courtney getting the ball to her with great passes was big (in the fifth set),” said Garner coach Jason Boyette. “We knew we needed to get (Ka’asha) swinging to start that set.”

Clayton (4-1, 2-1) had forced the fifth set by rallying from a 19-10 deficit in the fourth. A six-point service run by senior libero Jenna Harris helped ramp up the Comet rally. Senior Ali Orringer had a winning block and a kill to push Clayton ahead 24-22 in the fourth. Garner grabbed a side out in the ensuing point but Orringer was right back on the attack, finishing the set with another kill.

“I thought the way we played to end the fourth set would carry over and we could build off of that,” said Clayton coach Marlon Lee. “I thought we would be able to keep that intensity up like we did when we started playing well at the end of the first game and that helped us win the second game.”

The three sets in the middle of the match could have all swung either way.

Clayton led for most of the second set before Garner closed within 24-23 on a Kelsey Bryan kill. The Comets’ Kaylee Morgan answered back with a kill of her own at set point to even the match at a set apiece.

Neither team led by more than three points in the third set and there were ties at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 before Weathersbee put Garner ahead with a winning push shot at 28-27. Jefferies split Clayton’s Caitlin Davis and Kennedy Paine with a kill on the next point for a 29-27 set victory.

Garner rolled out to its 19-10 lead in the fourth with the help of multiple aces from Weathersbee and Stephanie Sierra and kills from Jefferies and Bryan.

Bryan had 17 kills. Garner totaled what Boyette believes is a school-record 66 as a team on the night. Weathersbee had assists on 59 of those kills.

But the Comets started digging out points midway of the set and forced the deciding fifth set.

“Clayton played defense very well,” Boyette said. “That’s the best defense we’ve seen in the conference in a while. They were covering the tips and the spikes well.”

The two teams meet again on Sept. 26 in Garner.

“We’re not into moral victories, but we showed the kind of team we are tonight,” Lee said. “We’ll see them again down the road. If we keep playing like we are, we’ll be right there with a chance to be a part of the conference championship race.”

Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest

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