Gators refocus, prevail on senior day

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SEVEN SPRINGS - Stay focused.

Tune out the noise.

Finish the job.

Spring Creek head volleyball coach Jannah Marriner relayed that short message after a third-set loss to Beddingfield on Thursday afternoon.

“I told them we want to play around and keep playing their game instead of playing our game,” Marriner said.

The Gators listened.

Gabby Sutton served consecutive aces to break an early deadlock and Spring Creek celebrated senior day with a 25-17, 25-19, 24-26, 25-10 conquest of Neuse Six 2A rival Beddingfield.

Sutton, Heather Alexander, Peyton Sullivan, Emily Williams and Yaeli Espinosa combined for eight aces in the decisive set.

“They had several distractions today with it being senior day and other things, but the last set they played their best set…did a lot better,” Marriner said.

Before the contest, Marriner recognized her two seniors - co-captain Espinosa and Gabby Perez. The two stood at midcourt with their parents and received gifts from the coaches and teammates while cameras clicked from the bleachers.

Espinosa capped the opening set with a kill down the line. Sarah Hess’ roll shot and a Bruin miscue closed out set two.

Beddingfield staved off two match points to claim set three and prolong Spring Creek’s bid for win No. 6 this season.

Marriner said the third-set loss reminded the Gators not to take anything for granted, especially with the season-ending conference tournament on the horizon.

Spring Creek (6-12 overall, 4-5 Neuse Six) opposes Eastern Wayne in quarterfinal-round play Monday at North Johnston. The winner travels to second-seeded Princeton.

“We’re going to play a team that we’ve already played twice this season,” Marriner said. “I think it was good losing that third set because that showed the girls it’s a not given, anything can happen. I’m just really glad they ended it playing that well.”

Spring Creek racked up 24 aces, 19 kills, 16 assists, 12 digs and three blocks as a team.

Williams distributed her team-leading 10 assists among Alexander, Espinosa and Sullivan. Alexander collected 10 aces. Espinosa tallied eight kills.

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