09/01/05 — White Oak gets its revenge vs. Eastern Wayne

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White Oak gets its revenge vs. Eastern Wayne

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 1, 2005 2:28 PM

Never underestimate an opponent.

Nearly two weeks ago, Eastern Wayne experienced little difficulty against Jacksonville White Oak in a preseason scrimmage. Warriors coach Bruce Burridge walked away knowing the Vikings would be a different team once regular-season play began.

His prophecy became reality Wednesday evening.

White Oak rebounded from opening-set mistakes and handed Eastern Wayne a 25-21, 25-10, 25-12 defeat. The Warriors fell to 1-3, while the Vikings departed 3-2.

"That's not the team we played at the jamboree and I told the girls that (before the match)," said Burridge, who returns five starters off last year's team. "We've played them in the playoffs (before) and they're a good team. I knew they'd have their stuff together.

"We were not prepared today."

Burridge spent Friday and Tuesday working on middle-court coverage in practice. But, instead of making the defense better, the Warriors looked ill-prepared for the Vikings.

White Oak constantly hit off-speed shots to center court and the strategy bothered Eastern Wayne -- mentally and physically. If the Warriors did stop a middle hit, the Vikings answered with a cross-court shot or setter dump toward the back line.

The Vikings tallied 22 points on off-speed hits or kills in the final two sets combined. They finished with 34 winners overall.

"We had a lot of confusion," said Burridge, who stretched and closed his hands like an accordion. "It (defense) never came back together. It's early and that's why we have the non-conference (schedule) to get everything right."

Several service errors and lack of consistent passing allowed White Oak to gain an early eight-point advantage in the opening set. The Warriors whittled away the deficit and took leads of 15-14 and 16-15 on an Anna Wilkins kill and Brooke Newsome solo block, respectively.

Burridge's squad moved ahead 20-17 on Deniz Alemdar's kill off Viking blocker Jamie Sample. However, Eastern Wayne could not keep the momentum.

White Oak got into an effective rotation and reeled off seven straight points for a 24-20 advantage. Sample, Maggie Barilich and Tandy Banks each delivered kills during the run.

The Warriors fought off one set point before Banks' off-speed shot, off Colleen McLaughlin's assist, closed it out at 25-21.

"We went flat," said Burridge. "The wind really went out of our sails (after the first set). We didn't move our feet well enough, just standing around.

"We'd have one or two great hits and we'd fall off the pace. We'd have one or two great blocks and we'd fall off the pace. We never put it together. They were just rolling."

Wilkins, who hit .800 (4 kills, one error) in the first set, didn't connect on a kill in the second set. The junior middle hitter provided four digs and two blocks as Eastern Wayne settled into a defensive mode.

The Vikings prospered in their attack with a dominant passing game that started off solid defensive play. Coach Brenda Wickwire's team let just one ball -- in 37 points -- drop untouched on its side of the court in the decisive third set.

"You could see today that we can't mistakes," said Burridge. "If we make a mistake, you knew they were going to capitalize. Every mistake we made they scored two points."

Banks led White Oak with 10 kills and eight assists. Sample and Barilich combined for 15 kills from their outside and middle positions, respectively.

Wilkins emerged the Warriors' leader with six kills and 14 digs. Kelly Elliott contributed five service aces, while Alemdar complemented Wilkins with two kills and 10 digs.

Eastern Wayne travels to county rival Goldsboro today. Match time is 5 p.m.