09/29/06 — Warrior spikers complete regular-season sweep of Saints

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Warrior spikers complete regular-season sweep of Saints

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 29, 2006 2:27 PM

DUDLEY -- Eastern Wayne continued its dominance of county opposition on Thursday evening, but escaped in misleading fashion against upstart Southern Wayne.

The Warriors rallied from single-digit deficits in the first and third sets, and prevailed 25-23, 25-15, 25-19. Eastern Wayne (9-2) remained perfect in three outings against its county foes in 2006 and climbed to 5-1 in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play.

The Warriors also remained unbeaten in 12 outings against the Saints since the ECC began play in 2001. Southern Wayne is a combined 0-23 all-time in ECC regular-season conference meetings against Eastern Wayne and fellow county rival Charles B. Aycock.

"They are going to hurt somebody's feelings in the conference tournament and I hope it isn't mine," said Eastern Wayne coach Bruce Burridge, who picked up his sixth regular-season sweep of the Saints. "Every time they get on the court, they get better. Anybody who goes into a match against them and takes them lightly is going to be in trouble."

Despite the sweep, Burridge said the match was much closer than the final score indicated.

"We didn't play as strong a game as we have in the past," he said. "They didn't let us off the hook, but we didn't exactly run away with it, either.

"I am happy we got the win, but am I impressed with the way we played? No. It was a good 'show me' game for us. It was a chance to see some things we need to work on and get better at doing."

Southern Wayne (1-5) generated a more-consistent offensive attack in the opening set. Sam Otellio dished out seven assists among hitters Charlie Garten, Bridget Parvin and Christy Weaver.

The trio helped forge a 10-10 tie that eventually turned into a 17-12 advantage. Weaver and Parvin's double block against Warrior left-hander Brittanni Billups closed out the 7-2 run.

Eastern Wayne burned a timeout at that point and returned to the court determined to keep its victory streak intact against the Saints. Senior middle hitter Anna Wilkins got involved in the offense and slammed a kill off Weaver's block that capped a 7-2 run by the visitors.

Tied at 19-19, the Warriors won six of the next 10 points. Wilkins (10 kills) delivered three kills off Brooke Newsome assists. Billups (six kills) and Syrena Bryant each served an ace.

Southern Wayne, meanwhile, tallied just two points on its final three serves and had just one kill by Garten.

"The first game, I thought we had it," said Saints coach Colby Mangum. "We don't push to win. We get ahead and we let up a little bit. These girls have to learn a winning mentality."

Offensive miscues and lack of transition to defense proved crucial for Southern Wayne in the second set. Eastern Wayne capitalized on several unforced errors and cruised ahead 7-2.

The Saints climbed within 11-9 on Parvin's kill off Otellio's assist, but couldn't get any closer. The Warriors answered with a set-clinching 14-6 run.

"They had a hard time getting set up in their offense when we sent a free ball over the net," said Burridge. "Any time we hit something offspeed, they didn't react quick enough. They seemed to over commit and get behind on passing the ball."

Sophomore middle hitter Clarice Sherard and Parvin (nine kills) provided offensive punch early in the third set. The duo combined for three kills as the Saints moved in front 4-1.

Eastern Wayne, again, chipped at the deficit and tied the set at 7-7 on Wilkins' ace. The Saints committed four straight unforced errors and couldn't recover as they fell behind 11-7.

"The second and third sets we dug ourselves a hole and then decided to fight back out of it," said Mangum. "That first game, I think, hurt us. Because after that they thought 'we blew this six-point lead.'

"But I think that's the best game they've played all year."

Notes: EW's Newsome dished out 25 assists. ... Otellio handed out 17 assists and had six digs defensively for the Saints. ... Garten collected eight kills and 10 digs. ... Wilkins had one solo and two assist blocks, while Billups had one solo and one assist block. ... Weaver had two solo blocks and one assist block. ... The teams combined for 50 digs.