10/04/06 — The streak continues - C.B. Aycock gets 28th straight league title

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The streak continues - C.B. Aycock gets 28th straight league title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 4, 2006 2:32 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Kristen Bennett and Courtney Barnes admit conversations about Charles B. Aycock's phenomenal streak in women's tennis don't occur often in their respective households.

Bennett and Barnes, both first-year starters, certainly feel enough pressure when they step onto the courts. They always hear 'can the younger, inexperienced players handle the tension associated with varsity play? Is this the year Aycock's run ends?'

Their answer? Not yet.

Bennett and Barnes, both juniors, continued playing like seasoned veterans Tuesday afternoon. Each posted a straight-set singles victory against archrival Eastern Wayne, and helped the Golden Falcons prevail 7-2 on the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference scene.

C.B. Aycock (12-2, 9-0 ECC) collected its 301st consecutive conference-match victory and claimed its 28th straight league championship.

"I do feel a lot of pressure because we've had a lot of really close matches where it's come down to one game," said Bennett, who remained unbeaten in 14 singles matches. "I don't want to let Coach (Luke) Vail down. I try to play my best, try not to get frustrated; just slow down and avoid getting frazzled."

Barnes' sister Justine and mom Whitney played on numerous championship teams with the Golden Falcons.

"I just want to make my mom and my sister proud because they're both in the streak," said Courtney, who climbed to 13-1 in singles play. "I just want to keep it in the family. It's always in the back of my mind and my grandparents talk about it all the time."

They'll keep talking.

"Kristen and Courtney were simply outstanding in singles," said veteran Golden Falcons head coach Luke Vail. "They executed the match plan to perfection. It's an incredible feeling winning the conference championship for the 28th year in a row.

"It's a real tribute to our players for fighting through the adversity of inexperience and pressure to maintain the tradition. Their hard work and determination has been the difference."

The Golden Falcons defeated a county opponent for the 31st consecutive time since the ECC's inception in 2001. Vail's teams are 12-0 against Eastern Wayne, 11-0 against Southern Wayne and 8-0 against Goldsboro.

"Eastern Wayne really took the battle to us today," said Vail. "Coach (Nancy) Dawson had them well prepared. (We) responded to the challenge and really came up big at five and six singles, and doubles."

Bennett and Barnes' two victories enabled C.B. Aycock to seize a 4-2 lead in singles play.

Senior Lizzie Sodoma walked off the sun-splashed courts first with a 6-0, 6-0 conquest of second-seeded Mollie Musgrave. Fellow senior Raychel Batts followed with a come-from-behind 6-2, 6-3 victory over Lauren Bynum.

Batts trailed 3-2 in the second set and held serve to take a 4-3 lead. The reigning ECC player of the year, Batts (9-1) took a love game off Bynum's serve and then finished off the Warrior junior in the next game.

Eastern Wayne's Casie Musgrave survived a first-set tiebreaker and turned back Kristen Prosser 7-6 (3), 6-4. Teammate Lindsey Frederick outlasted Emilee Quinn 6-2, 7-5.

"I think we were stronger in singles today down the line than we were (before)," said Dawson. "We showed some key improvement, but the score didn't reflect it."

Batts-Sodoma overcame a sluggish start to defeat Bynum-C. Musgrave 8-4 at No. 1 doubles. The Golden Falcon duo fell behind 4-1, but reeled off the next seven games to remain unbeaten in nine matches.

"I think Raychel and I weren't focused at the time, and we just had to realize a match was on the line," said Sodoma. "We got our head in the game and came back. We figured out what their weakness was and we focused on that.

"They liked low balls, so we decided to hit them higher and more towards the baseline, deeper so they couldn't play one down the line against us. That's how they lost a lot of their points."

Quinn-Bennett, the Golden Falcons' No. 2 tandem, dominated M. Musgrave-Frederick 8-1. The third-seeded doubles of Prosser-Barnes captured the first six games against Borden-Emily Northington and won 8-2.

Dawson confessed her disappointment in the Warriors' play during doubles. She said the teams "didn't deliver" on the key points, and couldn't explain the collapse of Bynum-C. Musgrave.

C.B. Aycock secured the league's No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs and launches defense of its eastern regional title at home Oct. 17. Eastern Wayne (8-3, 6-2) kept sole possession of second place and can clinch a playoff berth Thursday at home against Kinston.

C.B. Aycock 7

Eastern Wayne 2

Singles -- No. 1 Raychel Batts (CBA) d. Lauren Bynum 6-2, 6-3; No. 2 Lizzie Sodoma (CBA) d. Mollie Musgrave 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 Casie Musgrave (EW) d. Kristen Prosser 7-6 (3), 6-4; No. 4 Lindsey Frederick (EW) d. Emilee Quinn 6-2, 7-5; No. 5 Kristen Bennett (CBA) d. Nicole Fine 6-1, 6-1; No. 6 Courtney Barnes (CBA) d. Elizabeth Borden 6-0, 6-3.

Doubles -- No. 1 Batts-Sodoma (CBA) d. Bynum-C. Musgrave 8-4; No. 2 Quinn-Bennett (CBA) d. M. Musgrave-Frederick 8-1; No. 3 Prosser-Barnes (CBA) d. Borden-Emily Northington 8-2.

Records: C.B. Aycock 12-2, 9-0 Eastern Carolina 3-A; Eastern Wayne 8-3, 6-2 ECC.