Falcons back in playoff hunt
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 7, 2005 2:09 PM
PIKEVILLE -- On the verge of playoff elimination, Charles B. Aycock's volleyball team discovered its killer instinct and played superb defense against Wilson Hunt at the right time Thursday afternoon.
Jazzmine Lee delivered a key kill down the line and ignited a match-clinching 13-5 run in the third set. The Golden Falcons rescuscitated their playoff aspirations with a 25-22, 25-22, 25-13 sweep of the Warriors on Senior Night.
Aycock (9-4) rose to 5-3 on the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference scene and into a second-place tie with the Warriors.
If the Golden Falcons sweep county rivals Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne next week, they can clinch the league's No. 2 spot for the inaugural ECC tournament.
Unbeaten Beddingfield swept Eastern Wayne and is the No. 1 seed for the tournament and the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin Oct. 25.
Veteran Aycock coach Davis Harris described possible playoff scenarios during Wednesday's practice. He told the players they must run the table in their final three regular-season matches to assure themselves of a postseason appearance.
Davis added that a loss against Hunt could end the Golden Falcons' season.
"I put the pressure on them," said Harris.
And the players responded.
Aycock trailed 18-13 in the opening set and slowly chipped away at the deficit with good net play from Lee and senior Angela Lane. Lee's kill off Christina Scarcella's assist and Lane's kill off another Scarcella assist pulled the Golden Falcons within 20-19.
Hunt aided Aycock's comeback with back-to-back serving errors. Lane's service ace and two consecutive unforced Warrior mistakes gave the Golden Falcons a 24-22 advantage.
Senior Kandace Burroughs closed out Hunt 25-22 with a cross-court kill off Julia Lancaster's assist.
"Our serving was off in the first game," said Warriors coach Teresa Allen, whose team committed eight service errors and 14 overall. "I'm not taking anything away from C.B. Aycock, but I don't think we gave it our best volleyball (effort) here today."
A service error opened the door for Aycock game two.
Trailing 16-13, Burroughs started an 8-5 run with an off-speed hit against Hunt middle blocker Alex Calvert. Burroughs served two consecutive aces and Lee tapped off a ball off Warrior blocker Kiara Jones, which closed the gap to 18-17.
Lee served an ace for an 18-18 tie. The teams traded points before Burroughs' kill off Lancaster's assist forged a 21-21 tie. Burroughs added two more kills and Christina Scarcella added an ace to make it 24-21.
Hunt fended off one game point, but committed an unforced error to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-5 battle.
"Both games we came back and tied it up, and went on and took it," said Harris. "We've been having problems doing that (this season), but we did it tonight."
Scarcella pulled two balls out of the net to keep points alive in the third game. Caroline Potter, Laura Thigpen, Rusti Talton and libero Garrett Forrest dug up kill attempts from Hunt's outside hitters.
Harris credited the quintet's defense and passing for helping generate attacks for Burroughs, Lee and Shelly Lancaster. The trio combined for 23 kills in the three-set sweep. Lee's monster kill down the line caught two Warrior defenders flat-footed and started the match-ending run at 12-8.
"That kill busted it open," said a grinning Harris. "When that ball went down, I think that was it and it was over then. Jazzmine was everywhere ... played smart and didn't try to overhit.
"She got balls that looked like they were gone and dug up other balls. She did great tonight."
Burroughs added a kill off Julia Lancaster's assist to make it 14-9. The Warriors stayed within striking distance, but completely lost momentum on a hitting error at 16-11.
Burroughs and Forrest combined for four digs on one rally and Burroughs finished it with a blast down the middle. Aycock scored eight of the next 10 points and avenged a five-set loss to Hunt less than three weeks ago.
"The third game, we've talked about when we get cushions, to get (momentum) and go with it," said Harris. "I told them (we must) take away their heart, put the nail in the coffin and be done with it."
The Golden Falcons did.
Forrest and fellow libero Amy Fryt combined for 16 digs, while Lee and Thigpen each collected 10 digs. Overall, Aycock averaged more than 17 digs per game and finished with 53.
"We control our own destiny," said Harris. "We've got to put it together Tuesday and Thursday ... two dangerous matches."
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