Tigers on the prowl

Published 8:22 am Thursday, October 25, 2007

By Staff
Kevin Travis, Sports Editor
If history is on their side, the Williamston Tigers will reach the Final Four for the third time in school history.
Coach Herbie Rogers and the Tigers have to win two more matches to reach that destination in the NCHSAA Class 1-A state volleyball playoffs. The Tigers advanced to their first Final Four in 2001. Three years later, Williamston was back with a Final Four appearance in 2004.
Maybe 2007, three years after their previous appearance, will be another magical year.
The Tigers (21-2) cruised to 3-0 wins over Bear Grass and Camden to reach the third round. The Atlantic Conference champions face a tough opponent on the road tonight when they battle the Louisburg Warriors.
The Warriors (21-1), the champions from the Tar Roanoke Conference, also used 3-0 wins to reach the third round, dismantling Perquimans and Cape Hatteras in a hurry.
Williamston and Louisburg do have some history. The Tigers topped the Warriors in the second round en route to their Final Four appearance in 2004.
Louisburg, which reached the East Regional championship game last year before falling 3-0 to Pender, has a tradition of playing excellent volleyball. The Warriors, making their 28th playoff appearance since 1975, are 53-25 overall.
Williamston is no slouch either. In five years as head coach of the Tigers, Rogers has compiled a 91-25 record and has earned WDN Coach-of-the-Year honors in 2004 and 2005.
This year’s Williamston squad — Presley Roberson, Courtney Bowen, Morgan Miller, Jaimie Spruill, Lane Harris, Heather Jackson, Katie Paschal, Jamie Radford, Emily Tadlock, Treasure Godard, Jessica Clemmons and Kirsten Taylor — has created several great memories inside the Tiger gymnasium.
While there have been many outstanding Williamston teams in the past, I think the 2001 team, led by former coaching great Peggy Taylor, laid the foundation. Joanna Rogerson, Emily Best, Susan Griffin, Nancy Brandon, Virginia Webb and Amanda Lilley were a sensational group. To this day, they remain one of my all-time favorite teams.
Rogerson was high-flying and energetic at the net. Best was a blocking machine. Griffin could place a set with the best of them. Brandon had a wicked wallop. Webb and Lilley were simply consistent.
The 2004 team, directed by Rogers, carried on the tradition. The team was led by the likes of Michelle Bracey, Lauren O’Neal, Rhonda Manning, Jane Brandon, Mika Gurganus and Mary Drew.
Maybe, just maybe, history is on the 2007 team’s side.
A Final Four appearance, and more great memories, await.
Kevin Travis is the sports editor of the Washington Daily News. He may be reached at 940-4217 or by e-mail at Kevin@wdnweb.com. His blog, KT’s Take on Sports, appears at http://wdnsports.blogspot.com.