HERTFORD — The Perquimans volleyball team earned its fourth consecutive regular season conference championship Tuesday night, but it didn’t come easy.
Camden, with a chance to tie the Lady Pirates for first place, gave Perquimans its best shot in the last couple seasons between the two rivals as it pushed the match to five sets.
Perquimans kept its undefeated Albemarle Athletic Conference record alive though defeating the Lady Bruins 25-22, 17-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15-11.
“Definitely typical Camden-Perquimans,” Perquimans coach Kristie Thach said. “It was back and forth. We get a point, they get a point. We get two, they get two. The whole time, every set, I felt like we were in it.”
The fifth set began with several errors by both sides.
Camden (18-4, 7-2 AAC) was the beneficiary of a couple Perquimans errors for a 3-1 lead, but the Lady Bruins gave those points right back with three errors of their own for a Lady Pirates lead.
Moments later, after Camden held a 5-4 lead, Perquimans (18-2, 9-0 AAC) went on a run to separate itself from the Lady Bruins for good.
The Lady Pirates scored five straight for a 9-5 lead with three Alli Copeland kills in the mix.
Kills by seniors Hannah Daggett, Hannah Ferebee and sophomore Mckayla Knauss brought Camden back within 12-11 at one point, but Ferebee’s kill would be the Lady Bruins’ final point of the match.
Perquimans seniors Morgan DeCastillia and Abby Todd had back-to-back kills to finish off the match and end senior night with their 16th win in a row.
“I feel like we definitely improved from the first time we played Perquimans, but things just didn’t go our way tonight,” Camden coach Ashley Miller said. The Lady Bruins lost to Perquimans in four sets earlier in the year.
Before the final set, the last set the Lady Pirates won prior to it was a pivotal third frame.
Perquimans and Camden were even at 16-16 with the Lady Bruins coming back from a five-point hole.
The Lady Pirates finished off the third set scoring nine of the last 13 points for their biggest margin of victory Tuesday.
Copeland was responsible for six of Perquimans’ points at the net during the set and led her team with 15 kills in the match.
“Alli was our go-to for sure,” Thach said. “Everybody played great, but she was feeling it tonight. We were trying to get her the ball as much as possible.”
Camden was the winner of the second and fourth sets as it trailed the match by one set both times.
The Lady Bruins’ second set was their most complete.
After putting some pressure on Perquimans late in the first set, Camden came out on fire to begin the second.
The set started with a Knauss kill and a Ferebee kill made it 4-0. Two kills from senior Carley Blizzard and another from Knauss later, the Lady Bruins led 8-2.
Knauss finished with five kills in the set, on her way to 19 for the match, as Perquimans was never able to get within a point of Camden the rest of the way.
The Lady Bruins scored the final five points of the game with the last being an ace from senior Haley Bohn that hit the net and fell to the ground before Perquimans players could react to the change of speed.
“We tend to do better when we can start off on a run and get a cushion,” Miller said. “So that’s probably one of the reasons we felt so comfortable in that second set.”
Camden trailed 7-4 early in a must-win fourth set, but it managed to tighten the gap to one before going on a run.
Perquimans had three errors in a row and the Lady Bruins used a Ferebee block and two Blizzard kills off Pirate blockers in a row for a 16-11 Camden lead.
The Lady Bruins’ lead grew to six at 23-17 with three more Knauss kills and Daggett contributing a block and a kill in that span.
A couple of kills from Perquimans’ Copeland brought the Lady Pirates back within 24-22, but Ferebee came up with the kill to push the match to a fifth set.
“You could tell (Camden) was being more aggressive than us in that one,” Thach said.
The two teams went back and forth early in Tuesday’s first set with eight ties by the time it was 14-14.
A couple Camden errors gave Perquimans a two-point lead and the Lady Pirates hung on long enough for the three-point opening set victory.
It was the first five-set match between the two since near the end of the 2017 regular season, which is also the last Lady Bruins win over their rival.
Both have one more conference game to play today and Perquimans hosts Currituck Saturday before the conference tournament begins next week.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Thach said. “I can really tell they’re working hard and they are getting in a groove. I hope we can continue that.”