10/22/06 — Eastern Wayne dumps Western Alamance for first-ever playoff victory

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Eastern Wayne dumps Western Alamance for first-ever playoff victory

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 22, 2006 2:15 AM

The Eastern Wayne volleyball team crossed its final goal off its preseason "to-do" list and continued its most-historical season in school history on Saturday afternoon.

Brittanni Billups pounded out 15 kills as the Warriors dumped Western Alamance 25-12, 25-21, 17-25, 25-12 in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoffs. It was the program's first-ever postseason triumph in school history.

But the Warriors hardly celebrated the four-set win. When senior Anna Wilkins blocked Western's last kill attempt, she and her teammates seemed more relieved than excited. The exuberant celebration that ensued after Eastern Wayne seized the Eastern Carolina Conference tournament championship four days ago didn't take place this time.

The Warriors shook hands with Western's players and trotted toward the back hallway of the gymnasium for their normal post-game talk.

Is the team satisfied?

"I know they're not content," said sixth-year Eastern Wayne head coach Bruce Burridge. "(But) they don't have that killer attitude. Not a single one of them does and that drives me crazy. It really does."

Burridge pointed to the third game as an example of his statement. The Warriors (16-2) dominated the first and second games, but completely lost their focus in game three. Western Alamance (6-13) flourished in its offensive attack and pushed the first-round encounter to a fourth game.

"We just fell apart, didn't put anything together," said Burridge. "Our passes to our setter weren't that great. Our sets to our hitters weren't that great. Our hitters tried to do something with nothing.

"That's what took us out of our game."

Just as they've done in previous four-game matches this season, the Warriors picked up the pace. Eastern Wayne grabbed a 9-8 lead off a Western hitting error and used the miscue as the springboard for a match-clinching 12-0 run.

Billups delivered a kill off Brooke Newsome's assist. After an unforced error, Jordei Osby smashed a kill into an open middle court on Western's side of the net. Newsome served two aces and the Warriors led 15-8.

Carly Boyette, Osby and Billups combined for five consecutive kills for a 20-8 advantage. Western earned a couple of sideouts, but the Warriors regained the sideout on Billups' off-speed hit off the visitors' block.

Wilkins and Billups combined for a block against outside hitter Heather Cordle to make it 24-22. Wilkins posted her lone solo block against Brittany Morrow to end the match.

Burridge admitted he couldn't repeat his speech after the third-game loss.

"It got a little ugly, but they turned it on after that," he said. "They knew we didn't want to go into a fifth game, so they had to put it away. They woke up, listened and did what they had to do to put it together.

"There shouldn't have been a fourth game, but there was."

Newsome distributed 27 assists among Billups, Wilkins (four kills), Osby (eight kills), Boyette (three kills) and Leanna Rothwell (five kills). Wilkins led the defense with nine digs.

Billups and Newsome combined for eight service aces.

Eastern Wayne entertains West Craven (15-7) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in second-round play. West Craven, the No. 3 seed from the 3-A portion of the Coastal Conference, defeated Jacksonville White Oak 3-1 on Friday.