09/13/06 — ECC 3-A volleyball opener - Eastern Wayne outlasts Southern Wayne

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ECC 3-A volleyball opener - Eastern Wayne outlasts Southern Wayne

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 13, 2006 2:17 PM

Brittanni Billups couldn't wait to get back on the volleyball court.

Billups wept in a corner after Eastern Wayne endured a tough, five-set defeat last Wednesday against Havelock. The junior outside hitter told sixth-year coach Bruce Burridge that she "didn't bring her game" against the Rams.

Billups gained redemption Tuesday afternoon. She pounded out a match-high 13 kills, including eight in the final set, as Eastern Wayne turned back county rival Southern Wayne 25-4, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19.

It was the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference opener for both teams, and the Saints' first match of the season.

"She wasn't happy with the last match and she stepped it up ... came to play," said Burridge, who is 11-0 all-time against the Saints. "I have enough quality players that if one is having a down day, the others will pick it up and push them.

"Brittanni jumped to the front and say 'hey, we're going to win this'. She got mad and put it on the floor."

Billups emerged the offensive leader late in the third set. Southern Wayne middle blocker Clark Shirred stuffed Anna Wilkins twice and slammed a short ball off a Warrior passing error.

The Saints led 17-12.

Burridge burned a timeout and suggested an alternative attack. Instead of pushing the ball toward the middle, the Warriors needed to stretch the Saint defense to create more scoring opportunities.

"We needed to make kills and play our game," said Burridge. "We had to spread everything out and come from the corners. We moved Southern Wayne to the sides and they fell apart.

"That's just inexperience on the court."

Leanna Rothwell's cross-court kill off Brooke Newsome's assist and Billups' monster putaway from the outside produced a 22-22 deadlock. Bridget Parvin's kill off Sam Otellio's assist forced another tie at 23-23.

Billups finished off the set with back-to-back kills.

"Clarice did a great job of shutting the middle down and had several big blocks for us," said first-year Saints coach Colby Mangum. "They started to use their outsides more and that one girl, Billups, was very effective.

"We have to work on their killer instinct. They get six points ahead and they relax; a lot of teams do."

Billups pummeled the Saints' defense with four kills and Anna Wilkins added a kill during an early 8-2 run in the fourth set. Southern Wayne stayed within its offensive scheme and forged a 14-14 tie on Parvin's kill and Charlie Garten's service ace.

Billups and Wilkins combined for three kills during another stretch as the Warriors turned a scant 17-16 advantage into a 21-17 cushion. Carly Boyette sealed the ECC victory with a kill off Newsome's assist -- her 24th of the match.

"We had some solid spurts where we played our game and then we'd lose concentration," Burridge said of the final set. "It was hodge-podge ... sometimes we were in and sometimes we weren't.

"I think we're a better team than what we put on the court tonight."

Eastern Wayne seized the opening set 25-4. The Saints committed nine hitting errors and 10 unforced errors. Mangum's team couldn't convert a point off four service attempts.

The Saints rebounded from the disastrous start and emerged victorious in the second set. Mangum attributed the nervous start to jitters since Southern Wayne had no non-conference matches scheduled before its league opener.

"It was a learning experience the first set," said Mangum. "They were nervous, scared, unsure of themselves. I think we proved the second game they weren't unsure."

Wilkins complemented Billups' performance with 11 kills, three blocks and one assist.

Parvin led the Saints with 10 kills and two assists. Sherard provided three kills, three solo blocks and one assist. Garten contributed four kills, while Christy Weaver added three.

Otellio dished out 14 assists, while libero Meredith Davis notched 12 digs and two kills.

Eastern Wayne (5-1) is the guest of Wilson Hunt on Thursday, while Southern Wayne (0-1) travels to defending ECC champion Wilson Beddingfield. Each match begins at 4:30 p.m.