Cresset edges R’croft

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 2004

DURHAM – It doesn’t get any closer.

Ridgecroft came within two points of knocking off two-time defending state volleyball champion Cresset Christian Academy here Friday.

The Lady Rams, seeded fifth in the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association playoffs, defeated fourth-seeded Village Christian School and then set their sites on top-ranked Cresset.

In the semifinal match, Ridgecroft grabbed set one before losing two and three. The fourth set saw the Lady Rams rally to win and force a deciding fifth set.

There the Lady Rams raced to a 3-0 lead thanks to a block by All-State performer Jessica Misse and a pair of serving points by sophomore Jo Revelle Murray.

Cresset rallied to take an 8-5 advantage, but Ridgecroft wouldn’t go away. Misse blocked the next shot and then scored on four consecutive points, one of which was provided by a winner from Rachel Revelle.

Cresset came back to take a 12-10 lead before Rams’ skipper Nancy Brittenham called for a timeout. The move worked as Ridgecroft stopped the serve on the next point.

CCA eventually claimed a 14-11 advantage and were poised to win the match before Revelle’s kill and a point off the serve of Stephanie Northcott trimmed the lead to 14-13.

The next point ended the season for Ridgecroft, just two short of playing for the state title.

In the first set, it was the strong play of junior Sarah Beth Greene that helped pace the Lady Rams to victory. She had five winners and a pair of digs during the set while Misse and Revelle each provided a couple of blocks each.

It was Revelle’s serve that pushed the Lady Rams to the 27-25 win.

Cresset bounced back in the second game, rallying from an early 3-0 deficit to grab a 25-17 win.

They appeared ready to put the match away after dominating the third set and winning 25-15.

If they counted on being through in four, they were wrong.

Misse started the fourth set strong for her team, coming up with a block and two winners to help pace the Lady Rams to a 4-1 edge.

That lead eventually went to 6-2 thanks to a double block by Misse and Lauren Lilley.

Cresset came back to take the advantage at 9-7 and the two teams battled back-and-forth for the next 21 points. During that stretch, the match was tied seven times.

Greene collected a kill that gave the Lady Rams the lead (20-19) and handed the serve to Revelle.

She then scored three consecutive points to give Ridgecroft a 23-19 advantage. The Lady Rams closed the set with a victory thanks to a block by Misse.

In quarterfinal action, Ridgecroft cruised to a three-set victory over Village Christian School.

&uot;Entering the match, I thought it would be really hard,&uot; Brittenham said. &uot;I wasn’t expecting what the girls were able to do. They had won two straight titles and were ranked number one all season. I don’t think they were expecting a fight, but the girls gave them one.

&uot;Everybody showed up to play,&uot; the coach added. &uot;They hustled after the ball and hit the ball as well as we have all season.&uot;

Greene had a solid start, collecting two kills and a dig before Northcott had back-to-back kills that gave Ridgecroft an 8-3 advantage.

Trailing later in the first set, Brittenham called on Megan Coker who served three consecutive points to collect the 25-23 win.

In the second set, Ridgecroft went out to a 4-1 lead thanks to a pair of kills by Misse.

Ridgecroft led throughout the match and won 25-13 after Brittenham inserted Lilley to serve and she collected the final two points.

Set three saw the Lady Rams one point away from defeat as they trailed 25-24, but a Northcott kill deadlocked the score. Coker then scored on a pair of serves in a row, one coming off a Revelle block, as Ridgecroft prevailed 27-25.

&uot;Coming into this season I had questions,&uot; Brittenham said. &uot;We lost Kathryn Vick and she was such an important part of our team, but Jessica Misse stepped into that leadership role and led us so well.

&uot;Our setters had never played on the varsity level and they came around,&uot; she added. &uot;Rachel Revelle improved all season.

&uot;They all played their heart out,&uot; she closed. &uot;They gave it all they had.&uot;