Gerry L. Dickert
The Port Arthur News
Like a shot out of nowhere, the Port Neches-Groves Rockanoos would find a bit of momentum in a bid to win their Class 4A, Region III bidistrict round volleyball game Tuesday night.
It was a girl with a cannon arm from Goose Creek Memorial who would decide this duel, though, as the Patriots rolled to a 3-0 win at Hamshire-Fannett High School.
Senior Ceannia Kincade blew away the PN-G defense with explosive attacks at the net, picking up 20 kills in the match as Memorial scored wins of 25-23, 25-20 and 25-22.
"We just couldn't seem to keep our momentum up when we would find a little bit of it," said PN-G Coach Barbara Comeaux. "I'm proud of our kids for fighting as hard as they did. I think if we could have come back and won that third game, we could have won this match."
Indeed, the Rockanoos did not wilt away after falling behind two games in the match. Instead, PN-G battled back from as much as a six-point deficit to pull to within two at 23-21. Finally, it appeared, the Rockanoos had found their groove.
It was Wesli Vincent who was the mastermind of that late-match comeback, picking up two kills and a service ace that put PN-G within striking distance.
But again it was Kincade who came a'calling with a kill to extend Memorial's lead back to two points. After an unforced error by PN-G to force match point, Kiara Allison collected the kill and the game to put the Patriots into the Area round later this week. They will face the winner of the Kingwood Park-Waller bidistrict matchup.
"We played a little tighter then we usually do," said Coach Comeaux. "We just couldn't seem to loosen up. And we made some mistakes. You just can't do that in a playoff game situation."
In the first game of the match, the two teams played nearly even through three-fifths of the matchup. Back and forth they went until the Rockanoos finally put some distance between themselves and the Patriots. Back-to-back kills by Lauren Lovejoy gave PN-G the lead at 17-15 but Ka'Cha Tousant cut that by a point with a kill of her own for Memorial.
Hannah Walker picked up a kill for PN-G and Kaylee Powell had a service ace. Match those with a hitting error by Memorial and the Rockanoos were up four points, the biggest lead of the game.
That's when Kincade blasted two into the hardwood and PN-G responded with two errors to knot the game at 20-20.
Ariana Reitmeier picked up a kill for Memorial and Kincade capped the game with a shot over the tops of the Rockanoos' defense, landing the ball into the back edge of the court for the 25-23 win.
In spite of being down three at the midway point of the second game, the Rockanoos battled back to tie the game at 18-18. WIth Kincake picking up the next two kills, the Patriots would not look back as they took the five-point win 25-20.
With the exception of a 1-0 lead to start Game 3, the Rockanoos would not see the up side of the score for the rest of the final game.
Yet, in spite of trailing by as many as seven points late in the game, PN-G never threw in the towel, fighting to pull to within two points 24-22 on an unforced error by Memorial. Allison's final kill sent the Patriots to the next round and ended PN-G's season.
Lovejoy finished as the kill leader for the Rockanoos with nine, while Vincent had nine service points and six digs. Ryanne Lunceford picked up three service aces, while Haley Gerald had six digs. Kaylee Powell had 17 assists and three blocked shots for PN-G.