10/11/06 — History in the making - Eastern Wayne closer to first-ever volleyball title

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History in the making - Eastern Wayne closer to first-ever volleyball title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 11, 2006 2:27 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Bruce Burridge has made phone calls, searched every trophy case on campus and talked with former players. His tireless pursuit hasn't uncovered a single shred of evidence about the volleyball program's history at Eastern Wayne.

That's OK. Burridge's team is setting its own standard.

The Warriors moved one step closer to claiming a share of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference regular-season title -- the first in school history -- with a four-set conquest of archrival Charles B. Aycock on Tuesday afternoon. Brooke Newsome dished out 21 assists and Brittanni Billups provided 11 kills in a 21-25, 25-5, 25-14, 25-15 victory.

Eastern Wayne (12-2) remained tied atop the ECC standings with defending champion Wilson Beddingfield at 8-1. The Warriors assured themselves of hosting their first-ever home playoff game on Oct. 21.

"It's been a team concept and they've really worked hard to pull it together," said Burridge. "Once again, we played well enough to win, but it was a little choppy and sporadic."

C.B. Aycock (10-5, 5-4 ECC) played strong in the opening game and caught Eastern Wayne off guard. The Golden Falcons covered the floor well and attacked the Warrior defense at every angle.

Amy Fryt's kill off Emily Jordan's assist gave Aycock the lead for good at 19-18. The teams traded unforced errors and the Golden Falcons closed out the set on Lauren Pratt's kill off a short service return by the Warriors.

"We came out as flat as flat could be," said Burridge. "I saw it in warm-ups and realized we didn't have that fire going. They hung with us in that first game and all of a sudden, it seemed the girls got scared.

"We talked between games and I told them, 'Ladies, you've got to be kidding me. This is ridiculous. We're not playing our game.'"

Eastern Wayne seized control in set No. 2.

Billups' kill off Newsome's assist started a back-breaking 12-2 run. Billups finished with four kills, and middle hitter Anna Wilkins added two kills and one assist block during the 14-point stretch.

Meanwhile, the Golden Falcons failed to score off several service rotations and had just one winning point -- Jazzmine Lee's kill off Julia Lancaster's assist.

"It looked like our feet got stuck there for awhile and we didn't move to the ball as well as we did in the first game," said C.B. Aycock coach Davis Harris. "We dug some good balls, but after digging we ended up putting a free ball over and they just came back with another (attack).

"(It was) too much having to play defense and our passing got sporadic."

The Warriors limited the Golden Falcons to one point the remainder of the set and evened the match at 1-1.

C.B. Aycock never switched from defensive mode and denied Eastern Wayne point-scoring attempts in the middle and down the line in the third and fourth sets. The Golden Falcons piled up 40 digs defensively, including 15 by Lee.

Once the Warriors adjusted, they began finding the open holes near the back line and deep right corner. Billups, Wilkins and outside hitter Jordei Osby effectively worked each spot and helped Eastern Wayne gain comfortable leads in the third and fourth sets. The trio combined for 25 of the Warriors' 31 team kills.

"We had to put a dent in the defense somewhere so they wouldn't bring it off the floor," said Burridge. "We weren't as consistent as we could be, certainly not like the we played against Beddingfield the other night. Aycock definitely plays us a different style than what Beddingfield plays."

The Golden Falcons, however, couldn't overcome their mistakes -- 21 attack errors and 11 unforced errors. Aycock managed to take just six points off its final 26 service rotations.

Eastern Wayne earned its first-ever regular-season sweep of the Golden Falcons since joining the ECC in 2001.

"The seniors have never swept Aycock and said this was very sweet," said Burridge. "I am definitely happy with the way we finished, but not with the way we started. We just have to carry it over to Thursday night, and the rest of the way through (the postseason)."

The Warriors put their game six-game win streak on the line against Kinston.

"They're in a groove right now," said Harris, whose team concludes regular-season play at home Thursday against Southern Wayne.

Notes: Libero Anna Hajjar and LeeAnna Rothwell paced the Warrior defense with 10 and nine digs, respectively. ... Eastern Wayne served 13 aces compared to four for Aycock. ... Pratt emerged the Golden Falcons' leader with eight kills and two solo blocks. ... Lancaster and Jordan each handed out 10 assists.