High School Sports

Princeton volleyball squad bows out to Camden County

Princeton Bulldogs logo.
Princeton Bulldogs logo.

Many a team this decade has found itself in the spot Princeton’s volleyball team found itself in Thursday evening: busting their respective butts to try to make something happen, but every bit of momentum in the gym going the way of Bulldogs and leading to an exciting Princeton win.

A team finally flipped that script on the Bulldogs: Camden County reeled off three straight set wins to grab a 3-1 (17-25, 25-16, 27-25, 25-15) victory and a spot in the third round.

Princeton finishes its season with a 15-7 record.

“It wasn’t any one thing that went wrong,” said Princeton coach Paige Renfrow. “Everything we tried to do was just a little bit off. Our hits that we thought were the right touch were long. We had a couple of tough net calls that I never saw. But you’ve got to take it all and just move on.”

She continued: “We did all we could. Camden was just very good tonight.”

Princeton breezed through the opening set riding the power of University of Hartford commit Daisey Eklund. Eklund started the set with two blocks and finished it with five blocks and six kills.

“The first set couldn’t have gone any better,” Renfrow said.

But from there, the Bruins found their hitting touch and took advantage of a lineup where 5-foot-6 players are the small ones. Big sophomore hitter Gillian Denney helped lead a varied attack that wouldn’t let the Bulldogs climb out of an early hole in the second set.

The third set was close throughout, but Camden (20-3) never let Princeton get its offense going. The Bulldogs scored successive points just four times in both the second and third sets, then did it just twice in the fourth set.

With the score tied at 23-all in the third set after a Eklund kill, the Bulldogs were called for one of those net violations Renfrow mentioned, keeping Princeton from getting a set point and a chance for a 2-1 lead.

The Bruins rolled out to a 6-1 lead in the fourth set and the lead was never threatened.

The loss was tough to take for a Princeton squad — led by a half-dozen seniors — that has gotten used to November volleyball of late.

“This is not the end all, be all,” Renfrow said. “I know it hurts them so bad right now. The seniors were itching to get back. It just didn’t happen for us today.”

The Bulldogs’ senior class of Kortney Edwards, Beth Braswell, Blake Hinnant, Erika Hines, Leah Narron and Eklund were part of an unforgettable run. Princeton was 91-15 in the four years the Class of 2017 was a part of the program, helping to win 23 playoff matches since 2011.

Princeton has advanced to the eastern regional championship match in each of the past four seasons and has played in the last two state 1A championship matches, winning the title in 2014.

This loss is the Bulldogs’ earliest exit from the playoffs since 2010 when they lost in the first round. Every year since then, Princeton has been to at least the fourth round.

Princeton has advanced to the eastern regional championship match in each of the past four seasons and has played in the last two state 1A championship matches, winning the title in 2014.

D. Clay Best: 919-524-8895, @dclaybest

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