09/30/05 — Eastern Wayne gets past Saints again

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Eastern Wayne gets past Saints again

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 30, 2005 2:04 PM

Eastern Wayne's volleyball team defeated county rival Southern Wayne for the 13th time in 14 meetings on Thursday in the Warriors' gymnasium.

Unlike a three-set win on Sept. 13, this one wasn't easy.

The Saints had leads late in all three sets won by Eastern Wayne, only to see the home team emerge with a 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22 victory.

The Warriors (7-5, 4-2 Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference) won their third game in a row -- all during this week -- despite the absence of starter Jasmine McLamb.

"We didn't do anything like we normally have set up. It was the same people minus one, and I could see that threw that out of whack pretty good," Eastern Wayne coach Bruce Burridge said. "They are used to playing next to the same person, so it's all new.

"But, we never gave up. I think we do better with our back against the wall."

The match featured 24 ties and 15 lead changes overall as neither team consistently held serve for long stretches.

The first set proved the most closely contested. Southern Wayne's four-point advantage at 13-9 marked the biggest margin of the set as the lead continuously see-sawed with 12 ties and 10 lead changes.

Southern Wayne (1-4 ECC) took a 24-23 lead after an ace by Katie Westfall, but the Warriors battled to break serve on a kill by Kelly Elliott. The Saints were whistled for a four-hit violation, before Eastern Wayne's Anna Wilkins finished off the first set with a kill to make it 26-24.

Wilkins played a key role in the Warriors' ability to finish out each of their wins -- adding an ace to close out the second, then another kill at the net to finish the fourth and final set.

Southern Wayne took the lead at 4-3 in the second set on a kill by Charlie Garten and never lost the lead until the late stages. The Saints had an unforced error to make it 22-22, then made an untimely service error at 23-23. Carly Boyette notched a kill to give the Warriors their first lead since early in the set at 24-23, while Wilkins' ace finished off the set.

Down 2-0, the Saints regrouped in the third set and rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 advantage after an unforced error by the Warriors. From there, Southern Wayne never pulled away but also never trailed. Eventually, Rachel Reynolds found a hole in the middle of the court after a long rally to push the Saints to a 25-23 win -- making the match 2-1.

"We're finally at the point where we are competing. It's a mindset and philosophy I have," Southern Wayne coach Sally Combs said. "I've got a great group of kids. They are all hustlers, athletic and intelligent."

The back-and-forth battle returned in the fourth set as the first 19 points of the match saw seven ties and four lead changes. With Brooke Newsome serving, the Warriors took their third lead at 17-16 when Southern Wayne was whistled for a net violation. Newsome turned in the longest serving run for either team during this stretch -- serving on six points as Eastern Wayne surged ahead 20-16.

The Warriors had game-point at 24-20, but the Saints' Bridget Parvin provided a kill wedged between an Eastern Wayne service error and double-hit violation to pull the visitors within one at 24-23.

With Southern Wayne's Katie Westfall serving, Wilkins finished off the grueling set and match with another kill to give the Warriors a 3-1 win.

With only two guaranteed Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association volleyball playoff spots per conference this year, Burridge believes taking care of business at home is even more crucial.

"Next week, we're at Hunt (Tuesday), then we are at Beddingfield (Thursday), so winning at home is huge," he said.

The Saints travel to ECC-leading Wilson Beddingfield on Tuesday, then hosts Kinston on Thursday.

"I'm extremely pleased. I think we should have won," Combs said. "We had the momentum going, but there were some mental letdowns in a couple of places."