Four straight: Warriors win TIC

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MERRY HILL – This time six times 11 equals four.

Lawrence Academy’s varsity volleyball squad had just six players this season, but their 11 Tarheel Independent Conference victories gave the school its fourth straight league championship under Dr. Ed Clouse.

“This one is the best one so far,” Dr. Clouse said after the Lady Warriors dismissed Albemarle School in straight sets to earn the TIC crown. “It means the most to me because all six of my players are seniors and they have been with me for four years.”

Those six senior include Taylor Sexton, Jennifer White, Ashtyn Mizelle, Casey Belch, Ashton Lyle and Melissa White.

The Lady Warriors earned the number one seed and a bye in the first round of the Tarheel Independent Conference tournament which is scheduled for this week at Hobgood Academy.

Lawrence finished 11-1 in the league and 19-1 overall after topping Albemarle 25-19, 25-22 and 25-21.

“Our offense was off today, but we were able to rely on our defense to win the match,” Dr. Clouse said.

The Lady Warriors started strong in the first set, going up 11-7, but Albemarle rallied to close the gap to two (11-9).

Melissa White had one service point and Belch added two as Lawrence extended their advantage to 16-10. The Lady Colts got as close as five, but that was all. Sexton added a service point while Melissa White added a kill that made it 21-14.

The Lady Warriors won the final point of the first game on defense as they took an early lead.

In game two, it was Sexton’s tip that started the Lawrence comeback after they trailed 2-0. Belch then had a pair of service points to make it 3-2 in favor of the Lady Warriors.

The match stayed close, but the Lady Colts had a 9-7 lead moments later when Sexton took over the serve and rolled off three straight, one of which came thanks to a Jennifer White kill.

The Lady Colts got back even at 12-all, but Mizelle’s kill gave the serve to Melissa White who had four straight points on her serve, including an ace as the Lady Warriors edged ahead 16-12.

Albemarle closed in as close as 19-17, but the Lady Warriors won a huge rally when Sexton made a saving shot and Jennifer White delivered a kill that put Lawrence ahead 20-17. Mizelle then had two aces and three overall service points as Lawrence led 23-17.

The Lady Colts came back to within 23-21, but Dr. Clouse called a timeout after which the Lady Warriors won a point on Mizelle’s kill. They took the game again on a defensive point 25-22.

Game number three was again a close affair as neither team led by more than one point early. Mizelle, Lyle and Jennifer White each had a key service point early for Lawrence, but the match was still tied at seven-all.

Sexton recorded a tip later in the game to help Lawrence lead 11-8. White then took over the serve and pushed the advantage to four. A Mizelle tip on defense gave Lawrence a 13-9 lead and turned the serve over to Belch who rolled off the next four points thanks to a kill from Lyle.

Melissa White added a kill down the stretch as the Lady Warriors grabbed a 25-21 win.

Defensively, the Lady Warriors were led by Jennifer White who had three blocks and seven digs while also adding five kills. Melissa White led the team with nine digs and also added four digs and was 11-of-12 serving.

Belch was 100 percent on her serving during the afternoon, hitting good on all 16 of her serves. She also added seven digs.

Ashton Lyle added a team-high four blocks to go with four digs while Mizelle had five kills on the afternoon.

The championship gave Dr. Clouse his fourth in four season at the helm of the Lady Warriors’ program. He gave the credit to his players and former coach Gennia Wetherington.

“When I came here, I knew Lawrence had a history of excellent volleyball athletes,” Dr. Clouse said. “I also knew Gennia coached them very well.

“I just hoped that I could keep the tradition of good athletics going while at the same time increasing our team academics,” the coach added.

The Lady Warriors will face the winner of the Northeast Academy – Ridgecroft School matchup Wednesday afternoon at Hobgood in the TIC championship.