09/10/04 — Golden Falcons rebound, top West Carteret

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Golden Falcons rebound, top West Carteret

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 10, 2004 1:56 PM

PIKEVILLE -- The Charles B. Aycock volleyball team started slow against long-time nemesis West Carteret on Thursday afternoon and split the first two sets.

"Oh no, not again," thought Aycock coach Davis Harris.

The Golden Falcons followed the same pattern Tuesday afternoon in a four-set road loss against West Craven. But instead of falling back on its heels and playing passive, Davis' team put together two near-flawless sets in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference match.

Lindsey Newman provided a team-leading 11 kills in a 21-25, 25-10, 25-21, 25-13 victory. Aycock knocked West Carteret from the league's unbeaten ranks and rose to 4-1 in conference play.

"I was concerned to see how we'd respond to that (Tuesday loss) since it's been more than a year since we've lost a conference match," Harris said. "I was anxious since we have a lot of new girls on the team.

"After the first game, I thought we didn't back down or sit back, but we didn't get too many attacks. When we came out in the second game, we played extremely well ... very consistent."

Aycock yielded too many transition balls in the opening set. The lack of an attack allowed West Carteret to slide back off the net, set its offense and put pressure on the Golden Falcon defense. The Patriots collected 12 of their 29 kills en route to claiming the set.

The Golden Falcons' movement, especially on serve receive, improved in the second game. The solid passing, particularly from Ashley Morris, enabled setters Julia Lancaster and Chrissy Setliff to consistently push the ball to their outside hitters.

Serving also proved critical.

West Carteret (6-6) played a three-man receive with two blockers and the setter at the net. Davis' team began serving short to the middle court, making the passers extend far enough to where they couldn't get a good pass to the setter. The inconsistency broke the Patriots' offensive rhythm.

Aycock's Stephanie Ballance blocked a kill attempt by Mandy Hardy and served two consecutive aces for a 7-4 advantage. The teams traded points before Setliff served three aces in 5-0 run, boosting the score to 15-7.

"We wanted to drop some short serves in front of them," Harris said. "When they did that, they weren't getting their passes. They'd move up and we go back to a deeper serve. They were getting a lot of high balls (on the pass).

"Not getting the ball to their setter hurt their middle attack and their outside attack. That played a big role."

The Golden Falcons (7-2) closed out the set with a 10-3 run. Jenny Jackson served a pair of aces. Ballance, Lancaster and Newman provided timely hitting and blocking during that stretch.

But Davis wasn't through worrying.

"That's exactly what happened at West Craven," Harris said. "We lost the first one, came back and won the second set 25-10, and I wondered how'd we respond to that."

The teams played a tight third game that featured 10 ties and seven lead changes. Middle hitter Jena Smith and senior setter Shade Hester sparked the Patriots with an early run to tie the third set at 5-5.

Aycock remained consistent in its strategy and capitalized on numerous Patriot mistakes. However, the Golden Falcons couldn't put together back-to-back points and found themselves tied at 9-9 after a Kandace Burroughs kill.

West Carteret (4-1 ECC) moved ahead 14-11 before three Newman kills, all off Lancaster assists, forged yet another tie at 15-15. The Patriots fell victim to ball-handling errors, serve-receive miscues and suffered miscommunication issues the rest of the set.

"The defense played well and moved very well, for the most part," Harris said. "We started covering better on the middle hit. We didn't adjust much to it, but tried to take away the corners a little more.

"We went after some balls (on the floor), which is what I wanted to see."

The Golden Falcons profited from the mistakes and grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five match.

Lancaster's service ace ignited a 14-3 run in the final set and the Patriots never recovered. Ballance, Burroughs, Newman, Jackson and Jazzmine Lee worked well throughout the set as Aycock beat West Carteret for the fifth time in seven ECC meetings.

The Patriots surrendered 39 points on kill errors (13), serving errors (14) and ball-handling mistakes (12). The Golden Falcons also served a season-high 25 aces compared to seven serve errors of their own.