Heartbreak for Carson volleyball

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

By Mike London
STATESVILLE ó Carson’s timetable for qualifying for the state volleyball playoffs was pushed back a bit ó from next week to next year.
Carson entered Monday’s crucial game at Statesville’s Sampsel Gymnasium with a one-game edge over Statesville and Northwest Cabarrus in the fight for the NPC’s sixth and final playoff berth.A 17-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 loss to the Greyhounds elevated Statesville into a tie with Carson (6-11) in the NPC standings, and the Greyhounds now own a sweep of the Cougars and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“I know the girls are disappointed because they knew it was in their hands,” Carson coach Trish Hester said. “It’s tough to swallow. The girls played hard, but we didn’t finish games.”
Carson can only finish ahead of Statesville now if it upsets West Iredell in Wednesday’s regular-season finale and Statesville is knocked off by East Rowan.
That two-part scenario is possible, but unlikely.
Northwest was 5-11 heading into Monday’s game with East (score unavailable) and could still be in the mix. In the event of a three-way tie, Statesville’s sweep of Carson will give the Greyhounds the edge on the Cougars and Trojans.
Jennifer Hough and Amber Ingraham had 11 kills each for the Cougars. Breckin Settlemyer had four solo blocks and combined with Shanna Stewart on two others. Sarah Marshall and Marissa Sellers sparked Carson’s defense.
Stewart was hot early, put away nice sets by Taylor Whitley and registered five of her eight kills as Carson won the opening game.
Six missed serves had Carson treading water instead of taking charge in the second game, and the Cougars paid for it. Statesville, celebrating Senior Night, got more energetic as the game wore on, grabbed momentum and never gave it back.
The pivotal third game was tied 22-22 when Carson missed its sixth serve of the game. Trailing 24-22, Carson got a kill from Hough to stay alive, but Statesville’s Joni Henderson soared and delivered the biggest kill of the night to finish the Cougars.
“Statesville was scrappy, they were getting a lot of balls back people don’t usually get back and they were serving more aggressively than we were,” Hester said. “It’s hard to beat anyone when you’re missing that many serves, and we kept having to adjust our lineup just to get people in who get their serves in.”
Game 4 was more of the same. Dead-even all the way until the Greyhounds finished stronger with fine plays by Shaneka Harvey, Janitsha Williams and Amanda Morrison. Sellers made two spectacular digs to prolong match point, but Morrison, a powerful senior, ended the evening with a soft dink that found open space.”We didn’t control our hits very well and didn’t get our serves in,” Marshall said. “It’s a real heartbreaker.”Carson will return all its starters and has a chance to be the county’s best team in 2009.