09/14/04 — Cougars notch first victory

View Archive

Cougars notch first victory

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 14, 2004 1:56 PM

The volleyball teams from Goldsboro and Kinston had followed the same pattern heading into Monday afternoon's league contest. Each team had played tight games against their respective opponents, but neither had a win to show for their efforts.

The Cougars erased some of that frustration against the Vikings. Senior hitter Ashelyn James provided match highs of eight kills and three blocks as Goldsboro emerged victorious 15-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-21 in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference battle.

A three-day layoff and Kinston's ability to establish its middle-hit attack bothered the Cougars early. Goldsboro's players moved sluggishly on the floor and returned numerous free balls to the Vikings, who easily capitalized in their offense.

Kara Pelletier, the tallest player on the court at 6-foot-2, collected four kills as Kinston raced to an 8-0 lead in the opening game. Ashley Shingleton dished out three assists and served an ace. Goldsboro aided the visitors' run with a service error and two ball-handling mistakes.

"We didn't practice Friday or Saturday, and it was jitters from playing on Monday," Cougars head coach Ronnie McClary said. "We usually play better than this."

Goldsboro climbed within 16-13, but could get no closer. Two service errors allowed Kinston to rebuild its advantage. Pelletier served two aces and Whitney Bryant added an off-speed hit to close out the first game.

The teams combined for 10 lead changes and nine ties in game two. Carmille Early's short serve caught the Viking receivers off balance and ignited a 4-0 run. Early served two more aces and James' third pass off a dig dropped for a 20-16 lead as Kinston's defense failed to communicate on the play.

The Cougars bothered the Vikings by hitting either the first or second ball over the net. Kinston couldn't adjust in transition from defense to offense and failed to involve Pelletier in the game. Much to the disappointment of their coaching staff, the Vikings followed Goldsboro's style of play.

Kinston managed to pull within 23-21 on a Cougar service error before James collected a crucial block against Bryant to make it 24-21. James followed that up with a game-clinching ace -- one of 21 recorded by Goldsboro on the afternoon.

"We have been serving well the last three games and we've told them that if we can serve (well), we can win," McClary said. "The girls are athletic and they're going to move. If we can get the three-hit thing (going), we'd be just fine."

Game three mirrored game two. Again, the teams battled through 10 lead changes and nine ties. Traci Davis notched an ace to extend Kinston's advantage to 17-13 before the Cougars started yet another comeback.

The Vikings committed a hitting error to give Goldsboro the serve. Helga Bryant served an ace, one of her team-leading eight on the day. James blocked a Pelletier kill after Shaconda Johnson had dug out a Pelletier kill near the back line.

James put away a short return by the Viking defense to tie the game at 17-17. Another hitting error, a Bryant ace and a ball-handling miscue gave Goldsboro the lead at 20-17.

Kinston tied it at 20-20 before the Cougars put together a 5-0 run, capped by Tiffany Burden's kill off another short return.

Shameka Hardy served three aces and Hardy blocked a Bryant kill attempt to force a 10-10 tie in game four. Kinston, again, struggled in its transition game and Goldsboro scored numerous points off hustle plays including Early's off-speed hit after James dug out a Pelletier kill attempt.

The Cougars (1-6, 1-5) maintained as much as an eight-point lead in the final game en route to their first victory of the season.

"We play hard and play with every team we play," said Goldsboro assistant coach Rhett Potter. "We just couldn't seem to get a win until tonight. I'm proud of the girls."