10/25/06 — Eastern Wayne volleyball dumps West Craven

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Eastern Wayne volleyball dumps West Craven

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 25, 2006 2:18 PM

Eastern Wayne handled the pressure.

West Craven didn't.

Facing a possible fifth game, the Warriors turned up the intensity at the right time Tuesday evening. Junior outside hitter Jordei Osby delivered back-to-back kills that sparked a match-clinching 20-3 run, and lifted Eastern Wayne past West Craven 25-7, 22-25, 25-10, 25-13.

The Warriors (17-2) seized their 11th consecutive victory and entertain South Central in a third-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoff contest on Thursday. Game time is 6 p.m.

The Eagles concluded the year 17-8.

"We didn't want to go to a game five, it's just that simple," said Eastern Wayne coach Bruce Burridge. "Our backs were against the wall."

Hitters Torrara Jones and Keshia Hardy staked West Craven to a 4-1 lead in the fourth game. The Eagles constantly capitalized on Warrior mistakes and Leslie Jones added three consecutive kills for a 9-4 advantage.

The early-game surge mirrored West Craven's offensive production and steady floor play in the second game. The visitors cruised to an early lead and averted a late Warrior rally.

They couldn't deny the Warriors' second rally. The teams traded sideouts before Osby connected on her first of five kills in the final game. Eastern Wayne consistently held serve on two rotations and forged an 11-11 tie on Osby's kill off Brooke Newsome's assist.

Brittanni Billups and Osby, who combined for 24 kills, each slammed a short service-return ball back at the Eagle defense. Newsome, who dished out 28 assists, served three consecutive aces and the Warriors led 18-11.

"In the second game, there wasn't as much pressure because it wasn't the deciding game," said West Craven coach Bryan Goehring. "They played a lot looser and weren't making the mistakes ... the overpasses and missed hits that ended up killing us in the fourth game.

"Once Eastern Wayne fought back and took the lead, we kind of folded under the pressure."

Carly Boyette provided three consecutive aces and Billups wrapped up the four-set affair with an unassisted kill.

Burridge said the late surge in game four duplicated his team's effort in the opening game. The Warriors ran their offense with precision and constantly pressured the Eagles, who struggled in their serve-receive and passing game.

Eastern Wayne used runs of 7-0 and 9-1 to put West Craven away.

"We played the best (overall) in game one," said Burridge. "I was afraid we were going to slow it back a little and lose the tempo for the second game, which we did.

"If one or two key players get into a little bit of trouble, then we all panic on the court. But when we're putting it together, it just goes smooth."

The Warriors committed six hitting errors and five unforced errors in game two. They reduced the miscues in game three, and gradually pulled away behind middle hitter Anna Wilkins and outside hitter LeAnna Rothwell. The duo combined for six kills during a decisive 8-1 run.

Brianna Williams played stellar defense and recorded five digs during game three. She continued that effort in game four and pulled up two tremendous digs that led to successful Osby attacks.

Burridge said his team has shown improvement every match, but he's yet to see a "complete" match with minimal mistakes.

"We know how to play the game, but it's 'do we want to put it all together at the same time?'" said Burridge. "Sometimes, it's yes and sometimes, it's no. We know how to win, it's whether we want to do it or not is the problem.

"That's it in a nutshell."

Notes: Eastern Wayne evened its all-time playoff record at 2-2. ... Wilkins finished with seven kills, three blocks, five digs and one ace. ... Rothwell contributed six kills, eight digs and two aces. ... Overall, the Warriors recorded 38 kills, 29 digs and a playoff-high 18 aces.