08/30/05 — Davis leads Eagles past Chargers

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Davis leads Eagles past Chargers

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 30, 2005 2:10 PM

Each time Wayne Christian sophomore Traci Davis stepped to the service line Monday afternoon, Wayne Country Day volleyball coach Juliet Pinder-Jones took a deep breath.

The former Mount Olive College standout then clapped her hands and shouted "get ready" to her players. The Chargers bent their knees, extended their arms and waited for Davis' serve -- either a high floater or a line drive.

However Pinder-Jones' players, much to her dismay, never consistently returned Davis' zingers. Davis collected a phenomenal 21 aces in the Eagles' 27-25, 25-23, 25-5 non-conference victory over their independent school rival.

"I think, at times, they broke us down mentally and I tell my girls that volleyball is all mental," said Pinder-Jones. "That No. 17 (Davis), every time she came up, you could see the look on their face. They just shut down."

Davis opened the match with an ace. The teams played even over the next several points before Davis approached the service line again. This time, she reeled off eight consecutive aces that turned a 14-9 deficit into a 16-14 lead. In game two, Davis served six straight aces and built Wayne Christian's advantage from 12-9 to 18-9. In the deciding game, Davis started off with six aces in a 9-0 run.

"Excellent serving," said first-year Eagles coach Dawn Norris. "She's very consistent with her serve and a strong hitter. It's very hard to return her serves and that's why I put her first (in the rotation)."

Overall, Wayne Christian served 25 aces in the match, which took just 68 minutes to complete.

The early-season meeting featured two programs facing the task of rebuilding after graduation. Wayne Country Day (1-1) lost four seniors, all starters, off last year's team which advanced to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs. Wayne Christian (2-2) lost five senior starters with junior Michelle Krug the only returner with any considerable varsity experience.

Pinder-Jones anticipated a tightly-contested battle and that materialized through the first two sets. But youthful mistakes and the inability to consistently attack on transition balls compounded the Chargers' troubles.

"We didn't come to play," said Pinder-Jones. "They are a lot better. It would have been different if I felt like they didn't have the potential to win, but they did.

"Nobody got upset when they messed up and no one got excited over a good play. It was just dead today."

While Norris extended praise to Davis' outstanding serving effort, she also credited her team for not losing focus. The Eagles yielded numerous transition balls in the opening game that allowed the Chargers to find a little rhythm offensively.

Once Wayne Christian shook off those mistakes, freshman middle hitter Katie Daniels and freshman outside hitter Brooke Norris got involved in the offense. The duo stretched the Charger defense like an accordion with cross-court kills and off-speed shots to midcourt.

Those plays either led to quick points or a three-and-out play in the second game. Daniels blocked a tip by Ellen Elmore in the third game that ignited a short, but effective 4-0 run. Norris and Daniels put down back-to-back kills, and a net violation boosted the Eagles' advantage to 15-3.

Pinder-Jones quietly watched from the bench.

"We didn't have any fight left," said Pinder-Jones, whose team fended off six of eight game points in the first two games combined.

Wayne Christian benefited from 31 unforced errors to go along with Davis' 21 aces.

Norris cited her team's communication and ability to work together as factors in the Eagles' first non-conference win of the year. Their previous three matches occurred against Carolina 1-A Christian Conference opponents.