09/10/08 — Saints turn back reigning ECC champs

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Saints turn back reigning ECC champs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 10, 2008 1:02 PM

Never quit.

Southern Wayne proved that belief Tuesday afternoon.

The Saints erased sizable first- and third-set deficits to post a 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 victory over archrival Eastern Wayne in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference volleyball opener for both teams.

"After a five-set loss to Spring Creek, we wanted to see how the girls bounced back," said first-year Southern Wayne head coach Eric Durol. "They bounced back beautifully. We've fallen behind before.

"(Today) we managed to bring it home."

Southern Wayne (2-4 overall) ended a string of 14 consecutive losses to Eastern Wayne in ECC play since 2001. Meanwhile, the Warriors -- ECC champions in 2006 and 2007 -- endured just their second defeat in their last 21 regular-season conference outings.

Megan Hruby's off-speed kill on a short-served ball gave the Warriors their second seven-point advantage, 18-11, in the opening set. The Saints pecked away at the lead and pulled within 22-21 when Shanica Kelly blocked Caitlin Turner's middle-kill attempt.

Eastern Wayne committed a double-hit violation, which created a 22-22 deadlock. The teams traded sideouts before Clarice Sherard's solo block put Southern Wayne ahead 24-23. A hitting error allowed gave the Saints a 25-23 victory.

"The girls played hard," said Warriors head coach Steve Gregorcyk. "A couple of miscues here and there, couple of bad serves ... nothing I can really put my hands on.

"If anything, we just dished it back to them too many times to hit down our throat. We bumped it over way too many times."

The Saints benefited from transition balls, especially in the early stages of the second set. Sherard (10 kills, 3 blocks) connected on back-to-back kills off Jordan Coor assists to make it 2-0.

Stephanie Bellefeuille's kill and a misplayed ball in transition extended Southern Wayne's advantage to 4-0. The Warriors eventually tied the set on five occasions, the last coming at 22-22 on an errant serve.

Sherard's kills off assists from Bellefeuille and Stephani Rockwell wrapped up the second set. Kelly and Morgan Davis kept the points alive with crucial digs on the back row.

"The maturity of the girls is really starting to show," said Durol. "They're not panicking. They did everything one point at a time and didn't worry about scoring in bunches."

Hruby won a joust with Bellefeuille at the net to give the Warriors an 8-3, third-set lead. But the Saints, again, slowly chipped away at the deficit and seized control.

Melissa Ewers served four aces during a 7-0 run to put Southern Wayne in front 16-15. Two sideouts later, Coor served three consecutive aces to make it 20-16.

Hruby's kill tied the set at 21-21. However, the Warriors committed four unforced errors on the next six points to winless in six outings this season.

"We should have won those (sets)," said Gregorcyk. "It's been nail-biters all season, and we're getting closer and closer. We just haven't found that magic potion."