Warriors celebrate senior night in style
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 10, 2007 1:48 PM
There's no price tag for it.
Coming off its first loss of the season and battling distractions from senior night, Eastern Wayne turned to its biggest strength -- veteran leadership -- to get back on track Tuesday evening.
Eight Warriors ended their regular-season home careers with a 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 victory over Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference rival Charles B. Aycock. Eastern Wayne (17-1 overall, 8-1 ECC) clinched at least a share of the ECC regular-season title for the second consecutive season.
"We knew we had to finish," senior Brittani Billups said. "It definitely hurt to lose and blemish our record. We had to come out here and just play our volleyball.
"I don't think we played our volleyball (in the loss) at Beddingfield."
Eastern Wayne looked focused from the outset and raced to an 11-3 lead in game one. A pair of aces from senior Arielle Bowman, an ace from Brooke Newsome, and kills from four different players helped the Warriors take control. A transfer into the Eastern Wayne program, Bowman has missed most of the season with an ankle injury. She received medical clearance on Monday to take the court again.
"Arielle went out the second week of the season," Eastern Wayne head coach Bruce Burridge said. "I fuss at her every day of the season, 'no you're not ready, no you're not ready.' She wants to get in the game, she's a team player.
"She steps up on the line and serves three aces. I can't say enough about our team."
The Golden Falcons (2-13, 1-8) got as close as 22-17, but a pair of errors and a thunderous block from Jordei Osby on the final point helped the Warriors preserve the win.
Aycock avoided falling too far behind in game two, but was a victim of its own miscues. The game was deadlocked at 5-5 when the Golden Falcons began to unravel. Instead of taking charge against a more athletic team which controlled the net, Aycock gave away 14 points off miscues in the second game alone.
The Golden Falcons had 36 errors for the match.
"I thought our effort was there," Aycock coach Davis Harris said. "They just beat us. It's hard to account for Billups and Osby. We're not experienced enough to adjust right now.
"We were right in every game ... that's the story of our season. The thing we haven't been able to do all year is put the pressure on the other team."
Three misplayed balls by the Warriors in the opening stages of game three helped the Golden Falcons go on top 5-3. However, Aycock then lost four consecutive points off errors and never seemed to recover. Eastern Wayne pounded out 10 of its total 25 kills in the decisive game, most of which always seemed to extinguish any attempt Aycock made at a comeback.
"The girls could see when Aycock would get on a roll," Burridge said. "I've got to give it to my captain Brooke Newsome, she reads the game well. She focuses on what's going on, and she sees what's happening. She always makes the right comment, whether its run a different play or move your feet.
"She is a good team player, and she brings everything else out in the rest of our players."
Billups finished with 10 kills, two aces and a block. Osby added six kills and three blocks, and Bowman and Newsome each had three aces. Beth Carter tallied seven kills for the Golden Falcons.
While Burridge was pleased to add another 'W' to the Warriors' win column, the invaluable experience that his eight seniors have brought to their respective program over the last few years was at the forefront of his mind.
"Our seniors are phenomenal," Burridge said. "Three are transfers. The other girls opened their arms wide open and everything's been great. It's huge, it's turned our program around. This has been a great season because of these girls."
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