Southside stuns Williamston to win Atlantic Conference Tournament

Published 4:41 am Thursday, October 16, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
YEATESVILLE — One of the toughest things to do in sports is to beat a conference rival three times in a season.
Williamston found that out on Wednesday night.
After roughing up Southside in the teams’ two regular season meetings, Williamston got a taste of its own medicine in Wednesday’s Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship match, as the Seahawks shocked the Tigers in straight sets, 25-19, 25-17, 26-24.
It was the first ever Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks jumped all over the Tigers early.
In the opening game, Southside raced out to a 19-9 lead behind five kills from sophomore Atyana Starkie and a combined 12 service points from Dot Jones, Kristen Ayers and Becky Poole.
Williamston attempted to rally and cut the lead to 20-16 as Kirsten Taylor rattled off five service points in a row.
But the Seahawks were too much as they got kills from Starkie, Courtney Avery and Mandi Harding in the closing points to win game one, 25-19.
Southside got out of the gates early in the second game as well, as it raced out to an early 15-8 lead, aided by three kills from Harding, two kills from Starkie and five service points from Avery.
Williamston kept it close for a while, managing to close the deficit to 20-16 on three service points by Jessica Clemmons, but once again the Seahawks were too stout down the stretch. Southside scored five of the final six points thanks to kills from Harding, Avery and Caitlin Bogart in the closing minutes.
After Williamston built a brief lead in game No. 3, Southside got on a roll, as Avery, Poole, Danielya Whitney combined for 11 service points to help the Seahawks grab a 21-16 lead.
But Williamston wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The Tigers battled back and took a 22-21 lead as Taylor strung together five straight service points to put the Tigers back on top.
The two teams traded blow-for-blow down the stretch, before Southside took control. With the score 24-24, Harding delivered a hard spike over the net to give the ‘Hawks a 25-24 advantage.
Then, on match point, the Tigers couldn’t return the serve of Bogart as the ball fluttered down in Williamston territory and the Seahawks began to rejoice.
Southside was paced by Harding with 13 kills, while Starkie added 10 kills and three blocks. Ayers was the leading server with 14 service points, while Avery had 10 service points and Poole added nine service points.
Coach Pruden also lauded the play of Bogart and Danyelle Jedicka for their ability to dig.
Williamston was led by Taylor with 10 service points and Clemmons with nine service points, while Harris Shepherd had a team-high seven kills.
Despite the upset victory, the Seahawks will still be the second seed from the Atlantic Conference when the NCHSAA Class 1-A State Volleyball Tournament opens on Saturday, while the Tigers will be the top seed by virtue of its regular season title.
Southside (14-8) will play host to the No. 2 seed from the Southeastern Conference on Saturday, while Williamston (15-6) will host a wild card team on Saturday as well. Northside, the No. 3 seed from the Atlantic Conference, will travel to Camden to take on the top-seeded Bruins of the Albemarle Conference.