Smithfield: Sports

Closing ability carries Princeton to a sweep

Princeton played the role of proven playoff closer once again Tuesday, just as one would expect the Bulldogs to do.

After all, mid-October wins are commonplace in Bulldog land in recent years.

Whiteville learned that lesson in a three-set sweep by Princeton (27-25, 25-17, 25-18) that featured Bulldogs’ comebacks in the first two sets, including fighting off two match points in the opening set.

Princeton (19-4) trailed 15-10 in the second set, but rolled off the next 10 consecutive points with Taylor Carroll on serve to take control of the set and the match.

The Bulldogs, who will meet Perquimans in the third round on Thursday, scored 15 of the last 17 points of the set, with Kasey Edwards dominating the net. She had two winning tips, a pair of kills and a block in the 10-0 scoring run.

“Taylor had an especially good serving game,” said Princeton coach Paige Renfrow. “Charley and Kasey were very in sync on the attack. And we had some good hits from a lot of people: Emily (Ricks), Hailey (Wood), who has really stepped up, Kasey, Kortney (Edwards). I was proud of all of our hitters.”

Sputtering play was a trait of both the host Wolfpack and the Bulldogs in the opening set. Whiteville led at 24-23 and 25-24 but Princeton took control of the set with back-to-back kills by freshman Emily Ricks. Princeton notched the set clinching point when a Wolfpack kill attempt found the net.

“I felt like we battled too much early,” Renfrow said. “We should have been stronger, we made too many mental mistakes and physical mistakes, (We were) not passing well, hits in the net. But we made a couple of good blocks and that seemed to help get us going.”

Whiteville (14-7) only had two lead sin the third set — at 1-0 and 6-5 — as Princeton managed to maintain a one-point lead or tie again and again from the 7-6 mark to the 15-14 mark. A kill by Peedin, followed by a winning tip and a Wolfpack hitting error and an ace from Kortney Edwards rolled the Bulldog lead up to 20-14.

“We were able to keep the lead, kept some balls alive even when we weren’t playing very consistent,” Renfrow said of the third game.

Kasey Edwards closed out the match with a kill and then a block. She finished the match with 12 kills and seven blocks.

Cox had 29 assists, while Carroll and Ricks finished with seven kills each.