Warriors advance to eastern dual-team final
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 31, 2007 2:53 PM
More than one month after sweeping the regular-season series against perennial women's tennis power Charles B. Aycock, veteran Eastern Wayne coach Nancy Dawson knew she'd see them again.
Could the Warriors win a third time?
Dawson got her answer on a chilly Tuesday evening. The third-seeded doubles of Danielle Daniel-Kelsi Yates took control midway through their match and lifted Eastern Wayne to a 5-4 decision on the John Allen Farfour courts at Herman Park.
The Warriors (16-1 overall) secured first-ever appearance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional dual-team championship. They'll entertain NEW 6 champion Rocky Mount at 4 p.m. Thursday.
"Of all the matches this year, this was the one I was worried about because I know how hard it is to beat a team three times in one year," said Dawson. "It is next to impossible. I think the girls did a terrific job."
The 3-hour, 48-minute marathon also marked the end of Luke Vail's coaching career at Aycock. In 29 campaigns, Vail guided the Golden Falcons to 28 conference championships and a phenomenal 310-2 record in regular-season league play.
"We kept them on the court a long time," said Vail. "It was a very exciting high school match. I guess it's kind of a sad way to close out your coaching career because you'd like to close it out on a winning note.
"Today we just came up a little bit short."
Deadlocked at 3-3 after two-plus hours of singles play, Eastern Wayne employed and executed an effective tactical plan in doubles. All three tandems attacked the net well and closed out points early with sharp, pin-point shots.
The Golden Falcons (14-8) grabbed 1-0 leads at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles, while the Warriors' Daniel-Yates claimed the opening game of their match. After the next changeover, Eastern Wayne owned 2-1 advantages on two of three courts.
"I told them we had to be patient, cut down on unforced errors and take advantage of every ball that we could," said Dawson. "And no matter what happens, we had to play smart."
Aycock's top-seeded duo of Courtney Barnes-Emilee Quinn grabbed a three-game lead over Lauren Bynum-Casie Musgrave. The Warriors rallied within 9-8, but Barnes-Quinn prevailed 10-8.
The Warriors' No. 2 team of Lindsey Frederick-Mollie Musgrave won five of the final six games in a 10-5 conquest of Aycock's Kristen Prosser-Kristen Bennett. Daniel-Yates reeled off four consecutive games and took five of the last seven to defeat Jessica Davis-Mallory Strickland 10-6.
"Eastern Wayne did a much better job than we did putting the ball away in doubles," said Vail. "In all of the doubles matches, collectively, we just had too many missed opportunities at the net and too many unforced errors while we were on the baseline.
"We gave up too many easy points on routine balls we missed. That put ourselves in situations where we couldn't dig out of the hole."
Frederick improved to 22-3 on the singles scene this season with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Prosser at No. 1. Mollie Musgrave and Daniel each posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory over their respective opponents.
Barnes turned back Bynum 6-4, 6-3 and Bennett edged Casie Musgrave 6-3, 6-2 for Aycock's two singles points.
However, Golden Falcon sophomore Ashley Howell, in just her third career varsity match, turned in the day's gutsiest performance. Howell overcame severe muscle cramps to turn back the Warriors' Elizabeth Borden 6-2, 7-6 (3).
"Ashley put forth a courageous effort and played a great match," said Vail.
Both Dawson and Vail agreed the Warriors' depth throughout the lineup made a significant difference. And each realized that four singles wins would ease the pressure on their respective teams in doubles.
"Eastern Wayne played really well as a group," said Vail. "I think our players, on the other hand, gave it all we had and did what we could effort-wise. We'd like to have made some shots that we missed.
"Still, I thought our effort was outstanding."
2007 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 3-A
Eastern Regional semifinal
(at Herman Park)
Eastern Wayne 5
C.B. Aycock 4
Singles -- No. 1 Lindsey Frederick (EW) d. Kristen Prosser 6-2, 6-0; No. 2 Courtney Barnes (CBA) d. Lauren Bynum 6-4, 6-3; No. 3 Mollie Musgrave (EW) d. Emilee Quinn 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 Kristen Bennett (CBA) d. Casie Musgrave 6-3, 6-2; No. 5 Danielle Daniel (EW) d. Jessica Davis 6-1, 6-1; No. 6 Ashley Howell (CBA) d. Elizabeth Borden 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Doubles -- No. 1 Barnes-Quinn (CBA) d. Bynum-C. Musgrave 10-8; No. 2 Frederick-M. Musgrave (EW) d. Prosser-Bennett 10-5; No. 3 Daniel-Kelsi Yates (EW) d. Davis-Mallory Strickland 10-5.
Records: Eastern Wayne 16-1, C.B. Aycock 14-8.
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