09/22/05 — Golden Falcon spikers win sloppy ECC match

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Golden Falcon spikers win sloppy ECC match

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 22, 2005 2:12 PM

PIKEVILLE -- County volleyball rivals Eastern Wayne and Charles B. Aycock played a classic game of "you take it, I don't want it" on Wednesday afternoon.

The teams played passively throughout the three-set match and victimized themselves with crucial unforced errors on key points down the stretch. The Golden Falcons parlayed Warrior mistakes into set points and emerged the benefactor in a 25-23, 26-24, 25-23 victory.

Aycock (6-3) avoided its worst start in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play and exited with a 2-2 worksheet. Eastern Wayne (4-5) departed 1-3 against league opposition.

Neither Golden Falcon coach Davis Harris nor Warrior coach Bruce Burridge could offer an explanation for their team's passive attitude. Each admitted their respective teams seemed content to wait for the other team to make a mistake instead of playing to win.

They did. The teams combined for 73 unforced errors, which accounted for exactly half of the 146 points scored in the 84-minute match.

The Golden Falcons built four-point leads late in each set and couldn't discover the killer instinct Harris has been waiting to see all season. Aycock converted just three-of-10 set points.

"I don't know if its coincidence, but we got our 25th point (each set) on their mistake," said Harris, whose team averaged 11 unforced errors per set. "(Passive play) has been our problem for the last two weeks."

Burridge, like Harris, is anxious for his team to consistently finish off an opponent. Each time the Warriors put the Golden Falcons on the ropes, they couldn't close out the set. A hitting error, a shanked pass off serve receive and a net violation on a block attempt led to Aycock's three set points.

Eastern Wayne committed 40 unforced errors.

"We showed up to play, but not to win," said Burridge. "There were so many times we'd come back, get there and let it slip out. We didn't throw the game away, but we didn't play well enough to win."

Aycock raced to a five-point lead in the opening set, only to see Eastern Wayne pull within one at 12-11 on Carley Boyette's middle-court kill. Kandace Burroughs earned the sideout with a kill off Julia Lancaster's assist to start a 5-0 run for the Golden Falcons.

Laura Thigpen served a pair of aces and Jazzmine Lee connected on an off-speed hit to make it 17-12. But Aycock let the Warriors hang around with inconsistent passing and too many transition balls, especially on the second hit off a back-row pass.

Eastern Wayne pecked away at the deficit and eventually forged a 22-22 tie on an Aycock hitting error. Two hitting errors and a net violation on a joust play allowed the Golden Falcons to seize the opening set.

"I really don't know how to explain it," said Burridge. "Both teams played the exact same play ... neither wanted to win."

The second set featured 11 ties and 11 lead changes. Inconsistent play continued to haunt each team before Aycock turned a 15-14 deficit into an 18-16 advantage. Kristen Paynter ripped a kill down the line off Christina Scarcella's assist and added another kill to end the quick run.

Aycock owned set point at 24-18 before Eastern Wayne attempted its second comeback of the match. Middle hitter Anna Wilkins provided a kill off Brooke Newsome's assist to start a 6-0 run. Wilkins added another kill and Deniz Alemdar contributed an off-speed hit as the Warriors tied the set at 24-24.

A net violation and Lancaster's ace ended the rally.

"I thought we moved the court pretty well and it looked like we might be winding down in the third game, and that worried me," said Harris. "I was really hoping we would take the third game so we wouldn't have to go any further."

The Golden Falcons abandoned getting Burroughs the ball on the right side when the Warriors used a double block against Lee on the left. Burroughs had open areas inside the 3-meter line and down the line, but Aycock's setter never adjusted. Burroughs attempted just two kills and converted one.

The teams traded leads in the early stages before Eastern Wayne turned a 10-10 tie into an 18-14 lead. Wilkins, Boyette and Leanna Rothwell combined for five kills and got touches on several Golden Falcon kill attempts.

But Eastern Wayne couldn't keep the momentum.

With Burroughs on the back row, Harris encouraged Shelly Lancaster to pay attention to the blockers and look for open spaces. Lancaster missed her first off-speed hit, but followed with four consecutive kills as Aycock gained momentum and captured the win.

"Our attacks get slow when we can't get Kandace the ball," said Harris. "Shelly saved us in the last game and is getting better each match.

"I told the girls this was a big win because of the fact we bounced back from last night's five-game loss (to Hunt). I was worried that we might be a step slow."

Aycock concludes first-half conference play at home next Tuesday against Southern Wayne. Eastern Wayne entertains Kinston the same afternoon.

Notes: Burroughs finished with 10 kills, while Shelly Lancaster contributed nine. ... Scarcella and Julia Lancaster combined for 21 assists. ... Newsome dished out 13 assists for the Warriors. ... Wilkins concluded the match with seven kills. ... Boyette provided six kills, while Rothwell added three kills and one solo block.