09/07/06 — Rams hand Eastern Wayne first loss

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Rams hand Eastern Wayne first loss

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 7, 2006 2:18 PM

Eastern Wayne's bid for a perfect finish against non-conference, volleyball opposition came to a grinding halt Wednesday afternoon.

Outside hitter Stacie West delivered four kills in the decisive fifth set as Havelock claimed a 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 18-25, 15-11 victory at New Hope. The Warriors endured their first defeat in five outings, while the Rams improved to 2-5.

"I thought we played well," said Eastern Wayne coach Bruce Burridge. "(Havelock) scrambled well and not many balls hit the floor. This is the first time in five years that we've taken Havelock to five games."

The Rams, meanwhile, finally learned to close out a set.

Haunted by two-point losses in numerous matches thus far, Havelock capitalized on the crucial points and put the first blemish on Eastern Wayne's once-spotless record.

"This is the corner we've been waiting to turn," said eighth-year Rams head coach Ed Cruz. "We played well throughout the entire game and stormed back in game five, really took over in the end."

The teams combined for 22 ties and 19 lead changes in the two-hour affair.

Eastern Wayne rallied from behind in the opening set. Carly Boyette slammed a kill to the back left corner, which forced a 19-19 deadlock. Havelock benefited from back-to-back unforced errors by the Warriors, but couldn't hold the serve.

Boyette served an ace inside the 3-meter line for a 21-21 tie. The teams traded sideouts until Jasmine McLamb finished off the Rams with an ace.

"We let that one slip away at the end," said Cruz.

Havelock, of the Class 3-A Coastal Conference, dominated the second set. The Rams ran their offense with precision and attacked well from all angles en route to a 14-1 lead. West provided four kills and a block assist during that stretch. Stephanie Reynolds and Alyssa Luebs combined for a block against Boyette.

The Warriors, who dropped to 2-1 in home matches, pulled within 22-19 when Anna Wilkins pounded a kill off Reynolds' middle-block attempt. A service error put the ball back in the Rams' court and Lindsey Woolridge scored the final two points to end the set 25-19.

Havelock continued to block well in the third set and turned a 7-6 deficit into a 13-10 advantage. Eastern Wayne stayed within three points, but could never put together a run.

"We had a lax second and third game," said Burridge. "We struggled a little bit with our passing and our serving. We cleaned it up (later), but just fell short."

Junior outside hitter Brittanni Billups (12 kills, 3 blocks) spearheaded the Warriors' fourth-game triumph. The Spring Creek transfer notched two solo blocks and a kill that put Eastern Wayne in front 11-9. Burridge's team slowly pulled away and setter Brooke Newsome served an ace to force the final decisive set.

Two defensive digs by libero Anna Hajjar led to kills for Wilkins (11 kills, two blocks) in the last set. Wilkins' second kill forged a 7-7 tie and the Warriors moved in front 8-7 on a kill error by the Rams. Havelock eventually tied the set at 9-9.

"You have to hold the serve as long as you can," said Burridge, whose team generated just three points off its serve in the fifth set. "If you give up the serve, you're asking to lose. Our serving isn't what it has been (in the past)."

Natalie Salter, the Rams' libero, dumped a ball deep to the Warriors' backcourt during a momentum-changing 4-1 run. Reynolds served an ace. Wilkins delivered a kill after a timeout to make it 13-10, but Courtney Everette and West each recorded a kill to end the match.

West emerged the game's top offensive performer with 18 of the Rams' 35 kills.

"Stacie got hot at the end and we told our setters to keep on going to her, even if she gets blocked," said Cruz. "You're not going to block her very often."

Notes: Eastern Wayne had 38 kills as a team. ... Newsome dished out 21 assists. ... Havelock had 10 blocks and six block assists, with Everette posting four solo blocks. ... The Warriors served four aces compared to eight by the Rams.