Round one bragging rights go to Lady Tigers
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Score round one to the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers.
In what could be the first of up to four games in 11 days between the Lady Tigers and arch rival W.S. Neal, T.R. Miller grabbed the initial bragging rights of this year's series with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 victory on the Lady Tigers home court Thursday.
"I know the fans and players always look forward to the Miller-Neal matchups, but as a coach I always breathe a big sigh of relief after we play them because there is so much emotion involved," T.R. Miller coach Sharon Peacock said.
Peacock said she breathed an even bigger sigh of relief than usual after Thursday's win.
"Neal has really improved and if you look at our recent matches, they've been playing better than we have," Peacock said. "It's going to be tough to play Neal this many times in such a short period of time, especially at the Area Tournament where we'll probably have to play each other for the right to go on to the regional."
It was W.S. Neal (2-10) that inflicted the early strikes in Thursday's match. The Lady Blue Eagles took a 9-7 edge after a defensive point and three service points by Jessica Fountain. That advantage grew to a set high gap of 12-8 after another defensive point plus an ace and additional service point by Jullian Crutchfield.
W.S. Neal still was still ahead 16-13 after a defensive kill by Maggie Crutchfield and service point by Erica Cardwell when the complexion of the set and perhaps the match changed.
Senior Courtney Krehbiel played a big part of T.R. Miller's turnaround. Krehbiel first came up with a defensive kill. Then Krehbiel went to serve and posted eight points with three aces that put the Lady Tigers up for good at 22-18.
Service errors plagued W.S. Neal throughout the first set where it had six missed serves and the match.
"We had a chance to win every set, but serving errors killed us," W.S. Neal coach Kraig Rittenhouse said.
Set two was also up for grabs until the Lady Tigers had a strong surge down the stretch.
Tied 15-15, a defensive point and four service points by Terri Lynne Peacock put T.R. Miller (4-9) on top to stay. Another defensive point and three service points by Shandreka Foster closed out the set victory.
Set three followed a similar pattern to the first two. W.S. Neal took an 11-9 lead after a combined block by Maggie Crutchfield and Jennifer Partridge on a point by Brittany Tagudar.
The Lady Blue Eagles were still up 12-10 when a four-point, three-ace string by Krehbiel and a six-point string by Erin Byrne moved T.R. Miller in front for the remainder of the set and match.
The Lady Tigers came away with a split at Tuesday's tri-match at Escambia County.
T.R. Miller dropped a 25-12, 25-20 decision to Opp in the opener before it posted a 25-12, 25-20 triumph over the host Lady Blue Devils.
In the opener, Shandreka Foster had solid game at the net with a team high four blocks. Courtney Krehbiel posted a pair of kills, while Terri Lynne Peacock had a kill and two assists. Erin Byrne notched two aces, while Stacey Jackson had an ace.
In the win over Escambia County, T.R. Miller got a team best seven aces from Emily Layton. Vivian Muth added four aces and a kill. Rebecca Scott had a kill and Netaliah Johnson added an ace.