26th Sep2012

Lady Bulldogs make long road rip a successful one

by Lee Wagner

BEAUFORT – Beaufort-By-The-Sea is a quaint and beautiful town along the Crystal Coast but the Lady Bulldogs of Dixon High School did not take the 180.74-mile round-trip ride on an activity bus that consumed over two hours each way to this sea resort to admire the scenery – they came on business and they took care of that business in an austere, professional manner, and the best record in the conference is still theirs.

Seniors Allison Brown, Kelsey Pearce, Hannah Sorenson, and Miranda Davis took turns making life miserable for the hometown Lady Mariners as Dixon rolled to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-13) win over East Carteret on Tuesday in a key Coastal Plains 1A Conference volleyball game in this picturesque Down-East community.

The Lady Bulldogs improved to 5-4 overall and, more importantly, 3-0 in conference play. Dixon has one more conference game – home against Lejeune tomorrow (Thursday) and – and one non-conference contest – at home against Wilmington Christian Academy – on Monday before traveling to Jacksonville for a rematch with Southwest in a game that will go a long way to deciding the regular-season title – and the top seed in the NCHSAA 1A playoffs out of the conference.

The Lady Stallions have one conference loss, that coming by a 3-2 (19-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-13) score at the hands of the Lady Bulldogs on Sept. 13 at Dixon.

“It was a good win, we played well,” Dixon Coach Heather Moore said. “We’ve been working on finding holes on the court and we did a good job of that tonight. East has a couple of fantastic hitters and some good passers but we were able to overcome them and we played well.”

Serving was the key to the match with Pearce recording five aces, and Brown, Davis, and Sorenson combing forces for seven more.

“We did well serving,” Moore said. “We have also continued to focus on passing so our hitters have the options to find those open holes.”

All four of Dixon’s losses have come at the hands of larger schools in the pre-conference portion of the schedule – and they face another tough team in WCA on Monday. Dixon has lost in three games once and in four games once to 2A power Topsail, in three games to 4A Laney, and in five-games to 3A Jacksonville, and Moore said paying teams of that ilk is what has prepared the Lady Bulldogs for the conference.

“You don’t get better playing weak teams and our goal in scheduling the teams we have was to get ready for conference play,” Moore said.

Dixon              25-25-25

E. Carteret     18-15-13

Dixon: Kelsey Pearce 11 serving points, 1 kill, 5 aces, 13 assists; Miranda Davis 5 points, 5 kills, 2 aces, 1 block, Hannah Sorenson 8 points, 2 kills, 3 aces, 1 block; Allison Brown 15 points, 6 kills, 2 aces.

26th Sep2012

Lady Pirates cruise to easy win over Northside

by Lee Wagner

JACKSONVILLE – In a season where some wins come way to easily for the Topsail High School volleyball team it might be a safe bet to make two observations – the first being it probably won’t get too much easier than it was Tuesday night at Jacksonville-Northside, and the second is you can bet the farm the game on Thursday will be one heck of a lot tougher.

Jenna Register got a lot of playing time at the setter position and made the most of the opportunity with 11 service points, three aces, eight assists, one kill, and one dig, and junior Reagan Holloway led the hitting attack with eight kills as Topsail had a relaxing night in a 3-0 (25-8, 25-8, 25-8) win over winless Northside on Tuesday in an East Central 2A Conference volleyball game on the Lady Monarch home court.

Topsail improved to 13-3 overall and 8-0 in the conference as they head into Thursday’s showdown with East Duplin (13-1, 7-1), which had to go to five sets (25-13, 18-25, 25-18, 18-25, 15-9) to beat South Lenoir on Tuesday.

Topsail beat the Lady Panthers 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-15) on Sept. 4 in Beulaville, assuring the fact revenge will be on the minds of the Lady Panthers of Coach Elizabeth Turner – as will first place in the conference.

“Jenna got a lot of work as the primary setter tonight, and that was a good thing, and she did a nice job,” Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall said. “All the girls contributed to the win and we didn’t play down against a less-talented team.

“Northside did block well but we covered well and sent many balls back over. This could have been a gotcha’ game with the girls looking to East Duplin on Thursday but the team stayed focused on getting the win.”

Senior Carlie Smith continued her fine season with six points, three aces, seven kills, a block, and four digs, and senior Summer Darnell added three points, six kills,, and four digs to the mix.

Topsail: Kayla Hyatt 8 points, 3 kills, 3 aces, 2 digs; Sammi Proulx 3 points, 1 kill, 4 digs; Reagan Holloway 4 points, 8 kills, 5 digs; Sarah Woodward 1 point, 1 kills, 3 digs; Angie Poage 6 points, 13 assists, 5 digs; Kaleigh Bordeaux 3 points, 1 dig; Carlie Smith 6 points, 3 aces, 7 kills, 1 block, 4 digs; Jenna Register 11 points, 3 aces, 1 kill, 8 assists, 1 dig; Summer Darnell 3 points, 6 kills, 4 digs; Ali Broadbidge 1 point, 1 ace, 4 digs; Chandler Skipper 2 points, 6 digs.

26th Sep2012

Lady Patriots stay the course with easy win

by Lee Wagner

ROSE HILL – The target on the backs of the players on the Pender High School volleyball team keeps getting bigger and bigger as the Lady Patriots continue their unbeaten trek through the Tri-County 1A Conference.

But so far the Pender opponents have yet to find the bulls eye that results in a conference loss, and sometimes the Lady Patriots make things look a little too easy. Pender Coach Matt Davis is one of those guys who worries more about his team than the opponent, and as the easy wins pile up his primary concern is playing down to the opponents level as they await their next confrontation with Lakewood (Oct. 9).

To this point, though, it hasn’t been a problem.

Senior Kayvia Thompson had the hot hitting hand with nine kills, and Jackie Sanabria (10) and Katy Stewart (12) combined for 22 assists as Pender rolled to an easy 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-18) Tri-County 1A Conference  win over Union on Tuesday on the Lady Spartans’ home court.

Pender improved to 12-4 overall and 9-0 in the conference with three games left – home against James Kenan (Thursday), at Midway (Oct. 2) and at Wallace-Rose Hill (Oct. 4) – before that road trip to Lakewood to face the once-beaten (by Pender) Lady Leopards of Lakewood.

“I thought that we got our serving going tonight,” Davis said. “We had several aces (22) but we also forced countless bad passes off the serve resulting in free balls or balls that never came back.

“The team, as a whole, did a great job keeping focus and not getting taken out of the game for long stretches. Union played us far better this time around as I’m sure will be the case with most of our conference foes.”

The first game started off slow for both teams as they seemed to be trying to ease into the match. Just when Pender would go on a run the Lady Spartans would get a dig or make a play off a serve, keeping the Lady Patriots from putting any distance between themselves and Union. Sanabria was big in the first-game win, celebrating her birthday one day early, with 10 assists and two aces in the eight-point win.

The second game was a horse of a different color as junior Cassidy Miller drilled two quick aces in her first serve to set the tone of the game. With the scored tied at 2-2, Thompson went back and served a string of 10-straight service points, including five aces, and the competitiveness slipped out of the contest.

Stewart subbed in at the setter position for Sanabria and did a great job of keeping everyone involved by mixing up her sets and keeping Union off balance. Miller was able to take advantage of a few rotations on the front line to record two kills, and Alyssa Carter added three big hits in the 15-point romp.

Miller again got the Lady Patriots off to a good start in the third game followed by another strong eight-point serving (11 aces in the match) run from Thompson that included four aces in taking Pender lead out to 14-3.

Union was able to put together a couple of four-point surges to get close but Ruby Gasca went on serve and stymied the comeback attempt with three aces to run the score out to 20-13 in Pender’s favor.

“Katy had another solid game, getting the ball to our hitters, and she ended the game with an assist that Brianna (Pittman) hit so hard I swear the ball may be flat the next game,” Davis said.

Pender            25-25-25

Union              17 10 18

Pender: Kayvia Thompson 9 kills, 2 blocks, 11 aces; K. B. Hansley 2 kills, 2 aces, 1 dig; Brenee’ Jones 1 kill, 1 assist, 2 blocks; Ruby Gasca 3 aces; Jackie Sanabria 10 assists, 2 aces; Alyssa Carter 5 kills, 1 assist; Brianna Pittman 4 kills, 2 blocks; Journey Knowles 1 kill; Meghan Cleary 1 kill; Katy Stewart 12 assists, 1 ace; Amber Pyland 1 ace.

24th Sep2012

Nobody asked me but – Mistakes are part of the game

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Nobody asked me, but………..By all the accounts that I read there was a heck of  football game played in Beulaville on Friday night between the teams from Topsail and East Duplin High Schools.

A bit of a back-and-forth affair between two teams that could very well see each other again in the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs, a game that, by all appearances, came down to one play – a fateful blocked punt that – while the Pirates were celebrating what appeared to be an upset (hey, they were playing the always-tough Panthers on the road) – an alert player from East Duplin picked up the blocked punt, which never crossed the line of scrimmage, and raced into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

When I was a youngster coming up in the game of football, coaches always used to stress you, “Play through the whistle,” and knowing Pirates’ Coach Bryan Davis and the members of his staff as I do, I am sure he teaches that, too, although – to be honest – it’s something the players should have learned a long time ago in Pee Wee football.

So Topsail lost a game 26-21, a game by all accounts they should have won. After the game, Davis stood up and took the blame. He said he called, “Fire,” which means stay away from the ball after the block, and his players did what the coach told them.

I admire Davis for taking the heat, it’s what a good coach does. But, first, let’s go back to the, “Play through the whistle,” theory and – again I reiterate – it’s something that is taught from the get-go on a football field if the youth coaches are doing what they are supposed to be doing,  and that’s teach the game of football completely.

The rule says if a punt is blocked and the ball goes past the line of scrimmage, it’s a dead ball. It also says if the ball goes back behind the line of scrimmage it’s a live ball until the referee, uh, blows the whistle.

Davis said there was some miscommunication and it was his fault.  Okay, I’ll buy that to a degree. It is the responsibility of the coaching staff, and ultimately the head coach, to have the players ready to play, and understand, all phases of the game.

But let’s not forget, these are emotional teenagers and, no matter how intelligent they made a grievous mistake, too.

All that said a friend of mine was at McDonald’s on Saturday and he overheard some folks ripping Davis and the coaching staff.

Don’t want to offend anyone here by quoting scripture from the Bible but I believe it was a line in John 8:7 that said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone,” in reference to a woman accused of wrongdoing who was destined to be stoned (no, not that kind).

So, to all of you who would condemn a coach for making a mistake when dealing with teenagers, I say you might want to think a little deeper. I know I am not perfect, and I wonder how many of you out there with your jaws flapping in condemning a coach, or coaches, or players, or anyone else, comes even close to being perfect, or near-perfect. Remember this, it’s high school folks, and it’s a game.

Guys like Davis teach a lot more about life than just the game they are coaching, ,and they put in a lot of time – time away from their families – in doing it for a stipend that doesn’t require a Brink’s truck to accompany them to the bank.

If you can do better, get a teaching degree, go into the classroom and deal with what teachers deal with today, and apply for a head-coaching job.

When you do all of that – or when someone tells me you’re perfect at whatever you do – that you have my permission to condemn someone else for a mistake. Until then, shut up and support the kids and their coaches.

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but……….Hoggard played a team on Friday called the Q Foundation and beat them 49-0.

After the game, Vikings’ Coach Scott Braswell was asked why he plays a team like that which can afford little competition to his program as it gets ready for play in the tough Mid-Eastern 4A Conference.

A little history, first – The Q Foundation Academy is an alternative school for students that have run amuck of the law, or who displayed uncontrollable disrespect to teachers or administrators, or who get into fights, or who have academic problems that the regular schools can’t seem to address, or correct.

Many of this type of alternative schools do not participate in athletics, especially one so demanding in attendance, discipline, and self-control as football, but the Q Foundation Academy does because sports teach a lot of things the classroom cannot.

For many of these young people this is their last chance to make something out of a young life that hasn’t exactly gone in the right direction.

Braswell, a good family man beyond the football field, coached the Q Foundation interim head coach (Antoine Stevens) at West Charlotte High School several years ago, and he stated in a post-game interview that he believes in what they are attempting to do, and he respects the school and the program, so playing them gives them a chance to not only play against good competition, it gives the players a chance to travel to different places and to see what is out there.

This team plays almost its entire schedule on the road against much-tougher competition, and much bigger schools and they lose – heck, they are now 1-4 and in their last four games they have been outscored 184-0 – but they still go out there, all 21 of them (I was told that’s how many players dressed for the game against Hoggard), and they played as hard as they could even while taking their lumps

I admire the coaches and the kids for that, and I admire Coach Braswell and Hoggard for scheduling them. Will the 49-point win against lesser talent do them any good this week when the Vikings travel up College Road to Laney for a much-tougher game – NO! But did it teach the kids on the Vikings’ team, and their fans, something about life and second chances, and determination, I think YES!

Way to go Coach Braswell, and all of you associated with the Hoggard program for a job, and caring effort, well done.

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but……..Ok, Ok, so my Phillies are toast after losing two-out-of-three to the Atlanta Braves over the weekend while the St. Louis Cardinals were beating up on the Houston Astros in jumping out to a five-game advantage in the Wild-Card race over my Phillies with nine games to play.

But I am a loyal (OK, dumb) fan and I admire the fight they showed since the All-Star break when so many high-paid (and overpaid) athletes would have thrown in the towel. Life is full of “what ifs,” but I have to wonder what if Chase Utley and Ryan Howard had not missed upwards of 75 games each with injuries.

I think, with a little tinkering, this is still a very good baseball team, and don’t be surprised next year if they’re not back at the top of the standings in the National League East.

Now, my Eagles are a story for another day!!!

That’s what I think, what do you think?

23rd Sep2012

Titans struggle for continuity in 27-3 loss to Lakewood

by Lee Wagner

ROCKY POINT – Trask High School interim head football Coach Bill Mercier was definitely a little perplexed in a post-game interviewed after his Titans’ 24-point loss to Lakewood on Friday.

Mercier had just watched the Titans move the ball up and down the field but every time they got close to the end zone, several of the opportunities coming in the infamous “red zone,” the offense sputtered, and the end result was the Titan’s fifth loss of this no-longer young 2012 season.

But if you know Mercier you know he’s not a quitter, and he is not going to give up, and in his post-game talk to the players he told them, “I’ll be there at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, I hope you are, and let’s get ready together for Wallace-Rose Hill.”

I’m betting the Titans will be there, too.

Lakewood’s Nikin Henry rushed for 139 yards on 19 carries (7.3 yards-per-carry average), and four different Leopards found the end zone as Lakewood overcame an early 3-0 deficit to rally for a 27-3 win over Trask in Titantown on Friday in a tri-County 1A Conference footbgall game.

Making no excuses for the Titans, the Leopards are a very good team, and the win pushed hem to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Their conference loss came last week by a 27-24 score to the same Bulldogs the Titans (0-5) will face on the road this coming Friday.

“We played hard and we played pretty well on both offense and defense but we couldn’t put the ball in the end zone,” Mercier said. “We’d get close to the end zone and bog down maybe because of a missed assignment or something else (Mercier indicated he had not watched the game film at the time of the interview).

“It’s frustrating when you can run 60-plus yards and just stop. I’m not sure what the problem is at this point but it’s definitely something that needs to be corrected. I didn’t say much to the kids after the game because I knew they were frustrated, too. I just told them I’d be there on Monday and I hoped they would be, too.’

The Titans, behind Dalen Faison (45 yards), Dylan Kraft (28 yards), and Rakeus Graham (15 yards) did move the ball some against a stingy (85 points in five games with 47 of them coming in a 49-47 win over Franklinton and 27 of them coming in the loss to WRH) Leopards’ defense, but the passing game – as has been the case all year long – was lacking as the Titans were a combined 2-for-9 for 12 yards in the aerial attack, and that is a big part of the problem – no diversification.

Trask took a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal off the foot of Matt Sherman with 4:14 remaining in the first quarter but that wound up being their last scoring play. Lakewood moved ahead on a one-yard run by Kelvin Bird with 5:42 left in the first half and that lead stayed in place until Leopard Damion Bryant cracked the end-zone line on a seven-yard run with 6:44 left in the third quarter.

Lakewood made it 20-3 when Shyheim Rich scored on a one-yard plunge with just four seconds gone in the fourth quarter, and the icing on the Leopards’ victory cake came when Bell raced 16 yards into the end zone with 4:34 left in the game.

Lakewood      0-6-8-13=27

Trask              3-0-0-  0=  3

First Quarter

Trask – Matt Sherman 33 field goal, 4:15

Second Quarter

Lakewood – Kelvin Bell 1 run (Kick blocked), 5:42

Third Quarter

Lakewood – Damion Bennett 7 run (J. J. Tanner pass from D. J> Rich), 6:44

Fourth Qurter

Lakewood – Shyheim Rich 1 run (Pass failed), 11:56

Lakewood – Kelvin Bell 16 run (Seth Hewry kick), 4:34

Individual Statistics: Rushing – Trask: Larry Johnson 6-7, Dalen Faison 15-45, Dylan Kraft 3-28, Jakita Lane 10-6, Rakeus Graham 4-15. Lakewood: Nikin Henry 19-139, Tirek James 3-22, Damion Bennett 4-19, Haywood Mack 12-95, Shyheim Rich 6-54, Kelvin Bell 6-102. Passing – Trask: Larry Johnson 2-8-12, Dylan Kraft 0-1-0. Lakewood: J. J. Tanner 2-13-32. Receiving – Trask: Dalen Faison 1-14, Ethan Bischoff 1-minus-2. Lakewood: Jabriel Cooper 1-24, D. J. Rich 1-8. Defense – Trask: Arthur Brown 7 tackles; Joseph Rodriquez 1 tackle; Austin Richardson 2 tackles, interception; Dalen Faison 1 tackle; D. J. Love 7 tackles; Kemodrick James 4 tackles; Rakeus Graham 1 tackle; Ruben Chavez 2 tackles; Jordan Davis 10 tackles, 1 fumble recovery; Joseph Pacheco 1 tackle; Cody Harts 3 tackles; Allen Lee 4 tackles; Josh Smith 1 tackle, 1 caused fumble; Brandon Gardner 1 tackle; Sam McFee 5 tackles, 1 sack.

23rd Sep2012

Late mental mistake cost Pirates a win over Panthers

by Lee Wagner

BEULAVILLE – Make no mistake about this, Topsail High School football Coach Bryan Davis is good at what he does, but even with a thorough coach like Davis there are sometimes mental mistakes and physical miscues that can have a negative effect on the outcome of the game, and one of those provided Davis and the Pirates with one of their most frustrating losses in recent history.

Down to the final play of the game the Pirates broke through the East Duplin line and blocked a potential game-winning field goal with approximately 11 seconds remaining in the game.

The young Pirates – with a group of defensive players on the field that included two freshmen and two sophomores – began celebrating what appeared to be an upset win over the Panthers.

But two things happen when you block a punt – it crosses the line of scrimmage and is dead ball, giving the blocking team possession, or it bounces back behind the line of scrimmage and is a live ball until the whistle blows.

One of the first things you learn as a football player is to play through the whistle. The East Duplin players did, and the Topsail players did not, choosing instead to participate in an ill-fated and way-to-early celebration, and the result produced what Davis called, “The hardest loss I’ve ever had.”

Panther Montell Stallings opted to play through the whistle and he scooped up the live ball and raced 36 yards, untouched, to the end zone for the winning score allowing East Duplin to escape with a 26-21 victory over Topsail on Friday in Beulaville in a key East Central 2A Conference football game.

The loss dropped the Pirates to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference while East Duplin improved to 5-1 and 2-0 in conference play. Barring any further upsets over the last six games of the year, the conference championship hardware will come down to the Oct. 26 game – the last game of the regular season – in Jacksonville between the Monarchs of Northside and the Panthers of East Duplin.

The loss pretty much doomed the Pirates to a third-place finish in the conference, the same position they ended up in last year after early-season back-to-back losses to Northside and East Duplin.

“It is absolutely the toughest loss I’ve ever experienced because of the time and importance of the game,” Davis said. “”There were 11 seconds left when they attempted the kick and we blocked it but it bounced backward and their guy picked it up.

“We teach to always play through the whistle but we had, ‘fire’ called which means to get away from it, and our kids misinterpreted it. It’s my fault because I miss-communicated the instructions and the kids got caught up in the moment.

“We had two freshmen and two sophomores out there but it’s something I should have covered, and I left out one important part.”

But, as coaches and players always like to point out, in a close game one play is not always the reason between winning and losing, and if the Pirates had done a better job on both sides of the ball early in the game it might not have come down to that play.

The Pirates dug themselves into a 20-7 hole in the first half, and that, too, had a huge hand in the final outcome. Topsail took a 7-0 lead midway through the first period when senior running back Devin Williams scampered seven yards into the end zone and Alex Webster was perfect on the extra point.

East Duplin tied the game on a three-yard run by Dijon Poole and Zachary Parker’s extra point, and the two teams entered the second period deadlocked at 7-7. That’s when the Pirates made their first big mistake as Panther Jeffrey Suttons scooped up a Topsail fumble and rambled 48 yards into the end zone en route to producing a 14-7 Panthers’ lead with 7:47 left in the period. It became 20-7 when Poole burst into the end zone from four yards out with 2:18 left in the first half. The extra-point attempt was blocked

But the Pirates fought back behind back-up quarterback Matt Gilgo, who was playing for injured starter Austin Schoenleber – out with a bad groin pull. After a scoreless third quarter, Gilgo found senior Palmer Rice with an eight-yard touchdown pass and Webster connected on the extra point to bring Topsail within six at 20-14 with 8:23 left in the game.

Just under six minutes later Gilgo hooked up with senior mason Kimmel on a four-yard scoring play and Webster was true in giving the Pirates a 21-20 lead with 138 ticks (2:18) remaining.

“Matt made some good plays down the stretch to give us a chance to win,” Davis said. “But, at times early in the game, it was hit-or-miss and it’s because he hasn’t had a lot of reps, he was out the first two games with a concussion.

That left the games in the hands of the Panthers and Stallings, and it was game, set, and match!

Topsail returns home and will get a chance for redemption, and a chance to end their two-game winning streak, when they play host to 1-5 South Lenoir (0-2 in conference after a 41-016 loss to Richlands on Friday and a 48-0 loss to East Duplin on Sept. 14). Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Topsail            7-0-0-14=21

E. Duplin        7-13-0-6=26

First Quarter

Topsail – Devin Williams 7 run (Alec Webster kick), 5:09

E. Duplin – Dijon Poole 3 run (Zachary Parker kick), 0:08

Second Quarter

E. Duplin – Jeffrey Sutton 48 Fumble return (Zachary Parker kick),

E. Duplin – Dijon Poole 4 run (Kick blocked), 2:18

Third Quarter

Topsail – Palmer Rice 8 pass from Matt Gilgo (Alec Webster kick), 8:26

Topsail – Mason Kimmel 4 pass from Matt Gilgo (Alec Webster kick), 2:23

E. Duplin – Montrell Stallings 36 with blocked punt (No kick attempted), 0:00

Individual Statistics: Rushing – Topsail: Devin Williams 30-117, Hunter Jacobs 1-minus-3, Matt Gilgo 4-8. E. Duplin: Dijon Poole 15-91, Monquell Baker 7-27, Rumaius Huffin  4-1, Eddie Jones 3-7, Montrell Stallings 1-35. Passing – Topsail: Matt Gilgo 13-23-1643. E. Duplin : Monquell Baker 5-9-47. Receiving – Topsail: Hunter Jacobs 2-31, Palmer Rice 5-76.

22nd Sep2012

Lady Bulldogs rally for 3-2 rout Lady Trojans of Jones Senior

by Lee Wagner

TRENTON – There are some tough matches on the immediate horizon for the Dixon High School volleyball team but last night wasn’t one of them as the Lady Trojans went – as the old cliché’ goes – “Went softly into that gentle night.”

But it may be some time before the Lady Bulldogs enjoy another night like last night as they have games coming up soon against East Carteret, Southwest Onslow, and Pamlico in the conference, and a tough game against a very good Wilmington Christian Academy team in a non-conference tilt before another “breather” comes along on Oct. 9 at home against – of all people – the Lady Trojans.

But, for now the Lady Bulldogs can enjoy Friday’s Homecoming football game against Spring Creek before worrying about anyone else while sitting in sole possession of first place in the conference.

Senior Kelsey Pearce had an outstanding night with 18 service points, 15 assists, four kills, and five aces, and classmate Miranda Davis had seven points, nine kills, and an ace as Dixon quickly disposed of Jones, Sr. 3-0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-10) on Thursday in a Coastal Plains 1A Conference volleyball game in Trenton.

Allison Brown added five points, three kills, and three aces, and Cassidy O’Brien chipped in with five points, two kills, and three aces as Dixon improved to 4-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference.

Dixon must travel to Carteret County on Tuesday for a conference match against the Lady Mariners of East Carteret, and they return home to face Lejeune in another conference match on Thursday (Sept. 27) before facing Wilmington Christian Academy in a non-conference game on Monday (Oct. 1).

Dixon              25-25-25

Jones, Sr.        12-13-10

Dixon: Kelsey Pearce 18 points, 15 assists, 4 kills, 5 aces; Miranda Davis 7 points, 9 kills, 1 ace; Allison Brown 5 points, 3 kills, 3 aces; Cassidy O’Brien 5 points, 2 kills, 3 aces.

22nd Sep2012

Lady Titans fall in five at Midway

by Lee Wagner

DUNN – It’s been a rough, and at times, unfortunate week for the Trask High School volleyball team with a trio of tough losses dousing the fire of enthusiasm in Titantown that came about after a 4-1 start in the conference.

Many years ago, former Major League pitcher Elwin Charles “Preacher” Roe coined the phrase, “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you,” after being taken out of a game in the second inning, and lately it has been the bear that has been enjoying the cuisine instead of the Lady Titans.

Anna Brodmerkel had 22 assists with Neisha James (12) and Rachel Wilson (8) on the receiving end of many of those assists in combining for 20 kills but it was not enough as Midway defeated Trask 3-2 (16-25, 25-17, 9-25, 25-21, 12-15) on Thursday in a Tri-County 1A Conference volleyball game at Midway.

After jumping off to that overall 5-4 record and 4-1 conference start, the Lady Titans have now fallen to 5-7overall and 4-4 in the conference, and things are going to get a little tougher next Tuesday when they must travel to Salemburg for a conference match with the 12-2 (7-1 in conference) Lady Leopards of Lakewood.

Kassidy Tyer and Chrishonda Brown combined for 20 digs for the Lady Titans.

The young Lady Titans also lost to the Lady Raiders, falling 2-0 (23-25, 15-25) despite eight points, three aces, and two assists from Taylor Rivenburgh. The Trask junior-varsity team is now 5-7overall and 3-5 in the conference.

Trask              16-25-  9-25-12

Midway          25-17-25-21-15

Trask: Neisha James 8 points, 12 kills; Rachel Wilson 8 kills; Anna Brodmerkel 22 assists; Becca Alvis 12 assists; Kassidy Tyer 12 digs; Chrishond Brown 8 digs.

22nd Sep2012

Lady Patriots slip past feisty Hobbton

by Lee Wagner

NEWTON GROVE – Pender High School volleyball Coach Matt Davis made an early decision on Thursday after his Lady Patriots defeated Hobbton by 14 points in the first game and 20 points in the second game of their match, and that decision was to go with some of the bench players and to pretty much turn over the setting duties to young Katy Stewart for a good portion of the rest of the night.

Stewart rewarded her coach’s confidence by performing admirably but the Lady Wildcats apparently took umbrage with all the substitutions and they were no longer intimidated by the Lady Patriots’ size and abilities, and things got a bit interesting.

But, as in most cases, talent and skill prevailed in the end, and the Lady Patriots headed into the weekend with another conference win on the positive side of the statistical ledger.

Stewart finished with 11 assists and three aces, senior Kayvia Thompson continued her excellent play with nine kills, five aces, three digs, and two blocks, and sophomore Brianna Pittman had 10 kills and seven blocks as Topsail slipped past Hobbton 3-2 (25-11, 25-5, 23-25, 21-25, 15-4) on Thursday in a Tri-County 1A Conference volleyball game in Newton Grove.

The win left the Lady Patriots with an overall mark of 11-4 and a perfect conference record of 8-0. Hobbton fell to 7-7 overall and 2-6 in the conference.

“You take out the fourth game and I thought we played well but give credit to Hobbton, they took the momentum from the third game and ran with it,” Davis said. “Katy got a chance to show that we could win with her, she played the second, third, and fifth (deciding) games and she had us running smoothly.

“She struggled with her confidence early on in the season but there was no sign of that tonight, which was nice to see. That is going to be important moving forward, we’re going to need people to be able to come off the bench and play in pressure situations, maybe for a point or two or maybe for longer stretches.

The night began being defined by runs, or the lack thereof in certain cases. Hobbton took early control of the first game with tough serving in jumping out to a 6-0 lead, their lone run of the first two games.

Cassidy Miller then took over the service and was there for 10-straight points. Miller had three aces, and Thompson and Pittman each added a pair of kills in the ruin. After a Hobbton block made it 10-7, Thompson ran off five-straight points with three aces included in the spurt. Hobbton was limited to one-point scoring the
remainder of the game as Pender pulled away for a 14-point victory.

Stewart came on and performed with the first-team hitters and she responded with a strong game which included eight-straight service points and three aces. Hobbton was never able to pair up points, and Davis continued to substitute but it made very little difference in the 20-point win.

Hobbton took it to the Pender reserves in the third game, gaining momentum as the game progressed. Pender played well but their passing off the serve, which has been one of their stronger points, failed them down the stretch as Hobbton held on for a two-point victory. Journey Knowles played well off the bench for Pender with four blocks and a pair of kills.

In game four, Hobbton simply did not let up. Pender’s starters were back on the court after missing most, if not all, of the third game and it took a while for them to get back in the swing of things. Hobbton started to gain confidence and the hits that were going long in the first two games were finding the court, and the Lady Wildcats prevailed again, this time by a 25-21 score.

Hobbton scored the first point in the 15-point fifth-and-deciding game but Thompson answered with a kill off an assist by Stewart, and Miller took over the serve for the Lady Patriots.

When she gave it back it was 5-1 in Pender’s favor and, with the score at 6-2, Thompson took over on serve and the lead mushroomed to 11-2. The run included three aces by Thompson and two kills from Alyssa Carter.

Hobbton put together a two-point run to close to within 11-4 but play by Stewart in getting a tight pass over the net helped the Lady Patriots open up a 13-4 lead, and good sets to K. B. Hansley and Pittman accounted for back-to-back big hits that ended the game, and the match.

Pender has a pair of home games next week, welcoming the Lady Spartans of Union to the Ray Horton Volleyball Court for a conference match on Tuesday, and playing host to James Kenan on Thursday.

Pender beat Union 3-0 (25, 25-10, 25-11) on the road on Aug. 30, and they defeated James Kenan 3-1 (25-14, 25-18, 16-25, 25-20) on the road on Sept. 4.

Pender            25-25-23-21-15

Hobbton         11-  5-25-25-  4

Pender: Kayvia Thompson 9 kills, 2 blocks, 5 aces, 3 digs; K. B. Hansley 4 kills, 1 ace, 4 digs; Brenee’ Jones 1 kill, 3 blocks, 2 digs; Ruby Gasca 3 aces, 12 dig; Jackie Sanabria 1 kill, 13 assists, 1 ace; Alyssa Carter 5 kills, 3 digs; Brianna Pittman 10 kills, 7 blocks; Cassidy Miller 1 assists, 6 aces; Journey Knowles 2 kills, 4 blocks; Meghan Cleary 1 kill; Katy Stewart 11 assists, 3 aces; J. T. Taylor 2 digs; Alysa Bryant 1 ace; Amber Pyland 3 digs.

Hobbton: Taylor Bowden 2 aces, 2 kills, 18 assists; Marcie McLamb 3 kills, 1 assist; Casey Hobbs 9 kills, 1 assist. 2 blocks; Michaela Wilson 4 aces, 7 kills, 1 assist; McKenna Smith 7 kills, 2 assists, 1 block; RayAnn Eldridge 2 aces.

21st Sep2012

Lady Pirates ease past Swansboro

by Lee Wagner

SWANSBORO – A question arose after the game on Thursday night between the volleyball teams of Topsail and Swansboro, and that question is, “Which is better, winning pretty or winning ugly?”

The answer comes in two parts – it is always nice to win comfortably, blowing out your opponent so everyone can play, and allowing the coach of the winning team to sit back and relax, that being known as winning pretty.

But the real truth is there is no difference when it comes to the bottom line –a win is a win – and that is the way Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall and his girls felt after Thursday’s game in Swansboro. While their three-game win over the hometown Lady Pirates won’t garner any time on ESPN’s Sports Center, they are still unbeaten in the conference and atop the standings as the first half of the conference season came to an end.

Senior Carlie Smith put forth her usual excellent effort with eight service points, 14 kills, four blocks, three aces, and 14 digs, classmate Angie Poage set up several of those kills en route to 31 assists, and sophomore Kayla Hyatt had a nice night with two points, eight kills, four blocks, and a pair of digs as Topsail slipped past Swansboro 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-21) on Thursday in an East Central 2A volleyball game.

The win lifted Topsail to an overall record of 12-3 and a more-important conference mark of 7-0 after the first go-around in the eight-team conference. In those seven wins, the Lady Pirates have beaten top contenders East Duplin (12-1, 6-1) in three straight on the road, defeated South Lenoir (10-5, 5-2) in four games in Hampstead, and have now disposed of Swansboro (5-6, 4-3) in three straight on the road.

“The game was really about service errors,” said Pearsall, referring to 10 service errors by Swansboro and nine by his own squad. “There were a lot of really good rallies, and there were times when we really hit the ball and they got it up, so the service for both teams became a very important statistic.

“But this win is a big boost. The girls are really focused on being undefeated one more time and, if not, at least winning the conference on our way out.”

Topsail moves up to 3A in the 2013-14 school year and they will join the split 3A/4A Mid-Eastern Conference next fall. They have currently won 37-consecutive East Central 2A Conference matches.

Thursday’s first game started out like they were going to cruise on this night until, facing an 8-4 deficit, the Swansboro Lady Pirates went on a five-point run that gave them a 9-8 lead.

The match was tied at 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, and 12-12 before a three-point spurt by Topsail highlighted by a block by Smith gave her team a 14-11 advantage. It was 15-12 in Topsail’s favor when another three-pointer, sparked by kills from Hyatt and junior Reagan Holloway, produced what the scorer’s table said was an 18-15 lead.

That was wrong, although the officials had to go with the home book. At one point, Topsail was leading 13-12 and the scorers had it 13-12 in Swansboro’s favor. They later, again, awarded a point to Swansboro that should have gone to Topsail.

That lead, however erroneous, survived as Topsail finished off the game from 23-19 on a pair of kills by Smith.

Ties were in abundance in the second game, also, with the two teams finding themselves deadlocked at 10-10, 13-13, 14-14, and 17-17 before Topsail broke away for a 21-17 lead on a four-pointer splurge with all of those four points coming on Swansboro hitting errors. A kill by Smith and an ace by Poage finished off the second-game victory.

Swansboro still had plenty of fight left, and they extended Topsail in the third game. Swansboro led 17-15 before Topsail produced a six-point outburst with Lacey Akerley leading the charge with a pair of aces, and Holloway and Hyatt chipping in with kills to forge a 21-17 Topsail lead. The tie at 18-18 was the eighth tie of the game but the rest of the contest belonged to the visiting Lady Pirates with Smith closing out the game – and the match – with a solid big hit.

It was a tough day for the Topsail girls as they dealt with the death of a classmate earlier in the day.

“We felt like we had to beat Swansboro and we did a good job of working together,” Hyatt said. “Considering what happened today we really pushed to stay focused, and we really pulled together.

“This was big win because now we have beaten our top three contenders but we can’t relax, we still have to continue to play strong.”

That quest for a third-straight conference title, and a third-straight conference unbeaten season, continues on Tuesday when the Lady Pirates travel to Jacksonville for a second go-around with Northside (0-10, 0-7). Topsail beat the Lady Monarchs 3-0 25-12, 25-14, 25-12) on Sept. 30.

Next up is a couple of tough ones as the Lady Pirates will play host to East Duplin (12-1, 6-1) on Thursday in Hampstead before heading to Deep Run for a rematch against South Lenoir (10-6, 5-2) on Tuesday (Oct. 2).

Topsail handed East Duplin its only loss of the season (25-20, 25-15, 25-15) the first time the two teams played, and they defeated the Lady Blue Devils in four games (23-25, 25-10, 25-12, 25-19) in their first meeting, and it is a good bet both teams will be intent on avenging those losses.

Topsail            25-25-25

Swansboro     19-19-21

Topsail:  Carlie Smith 8 points, 14 kills, 4 blocks, 3 aces, 14 digs; Reagan Holloway 4 points, 9 kills, 8 digs; Sarah Woodward 5 points, 1 ace, 1 dig; Kayla Hyatt 2 points, 8 kills, 4 blocks, 3 digs; Angie Poage 4 points, 31 assists. 1 ace, 4 digs, 1 kill; Chandler Skipper 7 digs; Summer Darnell 5 points, 2 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs; Lacey Akerley 7 points, 2 aces, 1 dig; Sammi Proulx 1 dig.

Swansboro: Bobby Rabidou 15 assists, 10 digs, 2 kills; Bernie Brady 12 kills, 1 ace, 1 block; Alyah Johnson 1 kill, 1 block; Toni McTaggert 2 kills, 2 aces; Ashley Oriol 1 kill, 1 block; Kylie Cleve 1 kill, 1 block; Sarah Simpson 1 ace.