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Patriots deliver surprise volleyball victory

WESTSIDE 2, CROSS CREEK 0

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Christy Darracott wanted her team to make a statement, and the Patriots did just that.

Backed by a powerful serving game and solid passing, Westside handed Cross Creek only its second defeat, 2-0 (25-22, 25-9), Tuesday at Westside in the squads' final match until Region 3-AAA tournament play begins Thursday at Grovetown. Cross Creek had entered the contest atop the region with 11 consecutive sweeps.

"We were told they were a better team than us," said Darracott, who had three kills. "But we know we're a pretty good team, too."

Head coach Brian Hadden said he was a little surprised the Patriots (10-4) survived the first set. Considering the talent on the other side of the net, Hadden was ready for the Razorbacks to come out strong in the second set.

Instead, it was the Patriots who set the early tone.

A few echoing hits on serves kept the Cross Creek defense on its heels as the Razorbacks struggled to side out. In a blink, Westside had jumped out to an 8-2 advantage, and Cross Creek (12-2) never seriously threatened the lead. The Patriots continued to keep the hitting errors to a minimum and the passing provided players like Cameron Goodwin perfect sets for kills.

Cross Creek coach Tommy Vann said the Patriots played "awesome" and made his team look bad by comparison, though he said the unusually long seven-day layoff did hurt. But, Vann added, what really matters is the region tournament. Still, he said he hopes this result acts as a wake-up call for the Razorbacks with region play up next.

Vann said Westside outperformed his team in an area the Razorbacks usually dominate: pass-set-kill. The Patriots displayed a balanced attack and even took advantage of some overpasses for a few kills in the quick second-set victory.

The Patriots seemed to surprise even themselves with the ease of the win -- particularly in the second set -- with one player remarking, "Did we just beat them?"

Next up for both teams is the region tournament. The lower half of Region 3-AAA gets action started on Thursday with the winners of those matches moving on to play Friday. That is when the top five teams in the region first hit the court. The semifinals and championship are then on Saturday.

"No coach likes to lose," Vann said. "But I'm really proud of them. And I know it's not over yet."

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