CARY — Mount Airy took the first set, but couldn’t finish the match in the state 1A doubles championship.
Davi Barbour and Haley Thomas finished as runnerup in the state for the second straight year. It was also their third Final Four appearance.
Libby Fowler and Brooke Herlocker, Gray Stone Day, won back-to-back state titles.
When the players came out for introductions at 9 a.m., the thermometer read 32 degrees.
The weather was chilly, but the Bears started off hot.
Gray Stone Day won the coin toss and elected to serve first. That strategy backfired as the Bears broke the Lady Knights’ serve all four games in the first set.
Thomas won both of her service games as the Bears took the first set 6-1.
Coach Scott Kniskern said he told the girls to stay focused between sets. It doesn’t matter if a set is 6-1 or 7-6, it is still just one set, and momentum doesn’t necessarily carry over to the next frame.
Thomas won her serve to start the second set, but then Gray Stone finally got on track with its serving. The Knights took four of the next five games for a 4-2 lead.
The next three games went according to serve as Mount Airy edged closer at 5-4. The Bears went a point ahead in the next game and threatened to tie it up, but Gray Stone rebounded to win the game and set 6-4.
Thomas and Fowler served their way to wins to tie the set 1-1. Then the Bears lost all four points in the next game to be broken and fall behind at 1-2.
The Bears broke Herlocker to tie the match at 2-2.
Thomas hit a couple of aces to get to the Bears to game point, but then she hit a ball in the net and sailed two lobs long for a rare break on her serve.
Fowler won her serve to go up 4-2, and the Knights went on to clinch 6-2.
These doubles teams had played twice before and split their meetings.
Fowler and Herlocker won the 2012 state title, but Barbour and Thomas won back on Monday in the West Regional final.
Gray Stone coach Jeff Walters said the Bears played well in that match, but his team didn’t perform as well as they could. He was hoping for a better performance this time out and got it.
These two teams might not be finished with each other. Both are still alive in the dual-team playoffs as well.
This week, the Bears travel to East Montgomery, while Gray Stone hosts Bishop McGuinness. The winners of those matches will face off in the West Regional final.