News-Argus Volleyball POY: Brooke Newsome (E. Wayne)
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 23, 2007 2:02 AM
The biggest challenge facing Eastern Wayne's volleyball team this season wasn't living up to expectations, but battling complacency.
Loaded with a talented and experienced cast of players, many folks penciled in the Warriors as the preseason favorites to win the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference.
They didn't disappoint their peers. Eastern Wayne tied Wilson Beddingfield for regular-season supremacy and turned back the Bruins in the tournament championship.
"We started off slow and as the season progressed, we got better and learned how to play with each other," said Eastern Wayne senior setter Brooke Newsome. "When we got into the conference tournament, we came in with the confidence that we could take it."
That confidence carried over into the postseason.
The Warriors won back-to-back playoff contests, a first in school history, but lost to South Central for the second consecutive year. The loss sticks with Newsome since the Falcons battled back after falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-five encounter.
"When we beat them two straight games, I think we got overconfident and let down," said Newsome, who has been offered a Presidential Scholarship from Peace College. "When they started beating us, we didn't have the confidence (to come back) that we had before."
The five-set defeat ended a brilliant senior campaign for Newsome. She set single-season records for assists (778) and service aces (122), and will graduate as the program's all-time leader in assists with 1,708.
For her efforts, Newsome is the 2007 News-Argus volleyball player of the year.
"My 10th-grade year, I started as a setter, which is something I didn't want to do," said Newsome. "But each year I grew a lot more and as a senior, I became really happy because I learned more about myself.
"I had a fun year."
Workouts during open gym and playing with the WAVE 18U team fueled Newsome's desire to build upon last year's success. The stronger competition also increased her confidence level.
She easily embraced the role of team captain and learned to constructively criticize teammates without causing any hard feelings. Newsome expected the team to be relatively productive, which should undoubtedly produce another successful season.
"I had good expectations because all of our starters were seniors and we all had experience playing with each other for three or four years," said Newsome, a three-year varsity starter. "We were like a bunch of sisters because we've known each other for so long. We knew if we played together like a team, we'd get really far."
Much of Eastern Wayne's success centered around its offensive game. Newsome distributed sets among a variety of hitters, which not only kept opposing teams on their toes, but prevented them from keying on one hitter during a match.
Newsome, who averaged 33.8 assists per outing, usually received accurate passes from libero Brianna Williams or Anna Hajjar. She had the ability to put the ball anywhere on the net and had confidence that her hitters -- Brittani Billups, Jordei Osby, Carrie Adams, Alysa Artis and Hajjar -- would finish the play.
The Warriors concluded the year 21-2 and recorded 48 victories overall with Newsome engineering the offense. Eastern Wayne compiled a 28-7 worksheet against ECC opposition, including a 4-1 ledger in tournament play during Newsome's career.
"Spreading the ball around like we did, most teams didn't know who to shut down at a particular moment," said Newsome, a two-time All-ECC selection. "Everyone always came through for us."
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