Crestview falls in tourney finals

Crestview volleyball

Crestview's Brittany Pase, right, hits the ball against Niceville on Thursday.

Published: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 01:52 AM.

CRESTVIEW — Trying to harness the excitement of an opening set 27-25 win, Crestview High School volleyball Coach Kathy Combest urged her crew to remain calm, poised and focused on the doorsteps of a historic win. Meanwhile, Niceville didn't panic.

Vying for its sixth district title in seven years and second straight, John Michael Plummer's crew watched Crestview fight off a set point and prevail to put the Eagles behind the eight ball early on. But like perennial powers do, the Eagles rebounded.

Kayla Henrie delivered a team-best 16 kills, Portia Rodgers and Ashley Hagood combined for 36 assists and the top-seeded Eagles won the District 1-7A title with a 25-27, 25-19, 25-19, 25-20 road win over the second-seeded, host Bulldogs.

"I really try to stay as balanced as possible with my girls," Plummer said. "Our game is serve and pass and if we continue to do those well we'll be fine. That's what I continue to tell my girls ... and that's what I told them tonight."

As for Combest, her worst fears were realized when Crestview's momentum faded away with every self-inflicted error and Niceville attack.

"They kind of let the game get emotional," she said. "They have to throw that emotion out or internalize and harness that toward what they're doing out there on the court. I wanted them to keep a clean mind and I didn't think we did that over the final few sets."

For Henrie, who was especially clutch in the decisive third set with nine kills to lead the Eagles back from 13-7 deficit, there was no other option than to fight back and head into the Region 1-7A quarterfinals with that sought-after homecourt advantage.

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