PN-G seals playoff berth after lengthy fifth set

Published 11:55 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015

PORT NECHES — The streak lives on for the Port Neches-Groves Rock-A-Noos.

PN-G clinched its 33rd straight playoff berth Thursday with a thrilling five-set win over the Beaumont Ozen Lady Panthers.

It took all five sets as PN-G won 25-19, 27-29, 25-15, 20-25 and 17-15.

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Ozen looked like it had the streak beaten in the fifth set, as the Lady Panthers held a 13-11 lead. PN-G then got a kill from freshman Kaitlyn Gil to pull the Rock-A-Noos to within a point, but Ozen then went to Alissa Johnson to get within a point of winning the match at 14-12.

Jade Weatherford and Libbie LeJeune came up with back-to-back kills to tie the match.

The set was tied at 15-15 when Ozen had a hitting error and the match’s final point came off a Kailey Oliver block.

Naturally when PN-G coach Barbara Comeaux was asked after the match how she felt about making the playoffs once again, she did what everyone would expect her to do. She danced a little and sang “I Feel Good” by James Brown.

“How does it feel,” Comeaux asked once she finished her tune. “Relief. I am proud of the kids because they did not quit fighting. It was tough for them not to because I was on their case and we had a big crowd out there. You see it as a lot of support but it is also pressure to perform. I was proud and they knew we had to win to stay alive for the playoffs.”

The Rock-A-Noos now face Lumberton at 6:30 tonight at Ozen to decide the third and fourth seeds.

Comeaux turned to one of her seniors in Emily Taubert to deliver a clutch performance against the powerful hitting of Ozen. Taubert led the match with 27 digs. LeJeune had 18, Jessica Harper had 17 and Rachel Hammersmith had 13. Hammersmith also finished with 43 assists.

LeJeune led the Rock-A-Noos with 18 kills while Gil had 15, Harper finished with 10 and Weatherford put in seven with three blocks. Kailey Oliver added six blocks and five kills and Carley Roccaforte had seven kills.

“This is amazing,” Weatherford said. “It was a crazy match. We worked as a team and pulled through. There was a lot of excitement and relief when Kailey got the block. Yes, there was some added pressure to get coach in the playoffs, but I knew if we worked as a team we could do it. It really is amazing.”

Ozen relied heavily on the strong hitting of Johnson, who had 14 kills, and Brittanie Cockrell, who added nine in the loss. Chelse Gloude did her part by setting the spikers up all match with 25 assists. Mercedes Perry finished with seven kills.

“We now have to somehow get back up tomorrow and find a way to get after Lumberton the same way,” Comeaux said. “It is going to be tough.”

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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