DUBLIN — For the second straights season, Croatan’s Lady Cougars ousted West Bladen from the state’s Class 2-A playoffs, taking a straight-sets 25-20, 25-23 and 25-20 verdict on Saturday.
The Lady Knights end their season with a 12-9 record, while Croatan will take on South Columbus — who beat East Bladen on Saturday — in the second round.
West Bladen, behind kills from Courtney Thompson, and Mallory Davis, stayed close early in the opening game and found themselves trailing by just 12-11.
Cut the Lady Cougars put together a 12-1 spurt that put West Bladen in a 24-12 hole. Morgan Sweeney powered in a string of seven straight service winners and Davis contributed a pair of kills and a block to pull the Lady Knights to within 24-19. West Bladen added another point, but Croatan sealed the game moments later.
In the second game, the early going was much the same as the first. The Lady Cougars jumped out to small leads and West Bladen fought back to stay close — finally getting three straight service winners from Davis to take an 18-17 lead.
Thompson smashed a pair of kills and Breanna Jackson stroked three straight service winners to lead West Bladen to a 22-18 lead.
But Croatan regrouped and went on a 7-1 run to take the game.
The momentum from the second game remained for the Lady Cougars, as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead to open the third game. But West Bladen answered with a 5-1 spurt to close the gap to 6-5 before Croatan went on another run, this one 7-4, to take a 13-9 lead.
The Lady Knights responded with their own 7-4 run, closing the deficit to 17-16 behind the serving of Taylor Stephens and Sweeney. But Croatan again regrouped and finished off the match with an 8-4 spurt.
Sweeney led West Bladen with 11 service winners, while Davis, playing in her final match for the Lady Knights, had eight kills. Thomspon, also playing her final match, had seven kills and three blocks