Knights fall to Golden Eagles in playoff opener



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SENIORS (clockwise from top left) Kelsey Libby, Tyrra Demeritt, Brittney Newlin, Taylor Benjamin and Ellen Dunn pose for a photo during practice prior to their playoff game at Gilford. Senior Saige Baker was missing due to injury. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 31, 2011
GILFORD — There was no doubt that it was a tough task.

In the end, the Kingswood volleyball team just didn't have enough to knock off undefeated Gilford in the first round of the Division II playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 27.

"They're just so solid, straight through," Kingswood coach Mike Christy said of the Golden Eagles. "Defensively they're just stellar. There's so few holes in their defense."

The Knight coach noted that his girls did their best to try and find those holes and exploit them, but every time they did, the Golden Eagles were able to close the holes up as if they were never there.

The hosts took the lead right out of the gate, scoring the first three points of the night, but a nice tip from Kelsey Libby got the Knights on the board. Gilford then ran the lead up to 8-2 before Kingswood fought back a bit.

A nice play from Libby at the net, an ace from Ellen Dunn and a block from Brittney Newlin pulled the Knights a bit closer, cutting the lead to 16-8.

However, Gilford didn't stay down for long, as they came roaring back and opened up a 24-11 lead before a nice play from Emily Rumery got the Knights on the board again. However, Gilford closed out the game on the next play and took a 25-12 win.

Newlin got the first point of the second game and Kingswood hung tough, going up 3-2 and then pushing the lead all the way to 6-3 on another big block from Newlin. A Tyrra Demeritt ace upped the lead to 8-4, but Gilford came rallying back and tied the game at eight. The hosts then opened up a lead, stretching the lead to 14-10.

Dunn came back with a nice play at the net to cut the deficit to just three, but Gilford scored the next four points to stretch the lead a bit more.

The two teams had a great volley late in the game, but the point eventually went to Gilford and the Golden Eagles took the 25-13 win in game two.

Two nice plays from Autumn Wilber and a another strong play from Newlin helped the Knights get off to a good start in the third game, but Gilford didn't back down either and the two teams were tied at three.

Gilford pulled ahead by two, but an ace from Taylor Benjamin helped to close the gap and Kingswood hung close on another strong play from Wilber.

However, three more solid plays at the net from Newlin couldn't keep the Gilford girls from pulling further ahead and they grabbed a 22-9 lead before Kingswood put together a rally.

Libby got a nice tip and Demeritt recorded two aces to cut the lead to 22-12. Gilford was able to control the damage, however, and won the next three points for the 25-12 win and the 3-0 victory.

"They didn't play nervous or scared," Christy said of his squad. "We just got outplayed.

"I'm not disappointed in them whatsoever," he continued. "From where we were a few years ago, this is night and day."

Christy noted that the Golden Eagle program is the perfect program to model a young program on and he's hoping that some day Kingswood can get to that place too.'

"She's got the complete package," Christy said of Gilford coach Joan Forge's program. "And that's where we're heading as soon as we get the pieces in place."

The Knight mentor said he is pleased with the direction the program is heading and hopes that next year will bring even more success as the Knights look for a foothold into the playoffs.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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