Seahawks soar past Pam Pack in volleyball|Northside Panthers hoping for playoffs

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sports Editor

Tara Hunter was hoping for more from her volleyball team.
Elizabeth Pruden was pleasantly surprised with her squad.
Pruden’s Southside Seahawks got the better of Hunter’s Washington Pam Pack squad, posting a 25-11, 25-9, 25-15 victory in Monday’s season opener.
“I thought we did better than expected,” Pruden said. “We did really well at a jamboree we played at Saturday and that just carried over.
“Everything was clicking for us. Our passing was good and our setting was great. Our hitting was a little off today, but I think we can get that back on track.”
For the Pam Pack, the team fell in early holes each game and couldn’t climb out.
“I’m hoping it was first-game jitters that kept us from talking our best and not performing our best,” Hunter said. “Things were rocky compared to the scrimmage we were at Thursday.
“I’m just hoping we can take it as a learning experience and move on.”
The Seahawks (1-0) jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the first game. It quickly grew to 18-3 as Southside’s serves found a number of holes.
Jessica Taylor’s smash made it 19-5, while a kill from Kristen Ayers pushed the lead to 22-7.
Erika Sullivan’s kill stopped the run for Washington, but not for long as Southside posted the 25-11 win.
Caitlin Bogart got hot at the serve line, helping change a 4-4 tie into an 11-4 advantage for Southside in the second game.
Ayers and Bogart did a nice job setting up their teammates for kills. Atyana Starkie and Renikia Hodges, the Seahawk middle power hitters, took advantage of the nice sets, which helped the Southside cruise to the 25-9 win.
A quick kill by Courtney Avery got Southside off to a strong start in the third game. That helped the Seahawks open a 7-1 lead.
The Pack tried to rally, using some nice serving from Robin Lilley and a kill from Haley Hiatt to make it 13-10. However, Southside was able to pull away and complete the sweep.
Hunter is hoping her players can improve on Monday’s opener.
“I saw some players taking charge out there and we need that more,” Hunter said. “There were a couple out there saying, ‘we need to talk more; we need to talk more.’ We just have to talk. That was our big problem.”
Washington could have used senior Blaklee Wolfe at the net. However, the big hitter won’t be on the court until the team’s third game of the season.
Southside returns to action today at Bear Grass. The Seahawks play their home opener Thursday against Pamlico.
Washington will be back on the court Wednesday at home against North Pitt.
Panthers hoping for playoffs
Open 2009 season today at Columbia
Sports Editor
YEATESVILLE — Whitney Lewis, Savanna Boyd and the rest of the Northside Panthers are ready to make some noise in the Four Rivers Conference.
With the combining of the Atlantic and Albemarle conferences, Northside coach Tami Wagaman knows the season could be a challenging one. Wagaman, who begins her third year as the Northside coach and her 12th overall as a head volleyball coach, believes the usual powerhouses will figure prominently at the top of the conference.
“I think it’s always the same,” Wagaman said. “Manteo, Camden and Perquimans are always good, (along with) Williamston and Southside. Not counting anyone else out, but they’re always up there battling and we’re always trying to find our way in there somewhere.”
Despite playing in a tough conference, the Panthers are setting some high goals.
“Their No. 1 goal is to make the playoffs,” Wagaman said of her players. “It is going to be harder this year in that big conference.
“Yes, we would love to be up on top, but we’re going to work it one thing at a time. We’re just looking at it game-by-game; winning more games than we did last year.”
Wagaman is hoping her two big hitters, sophomore Rachel Hollowell and Lewis, a senior, will come up big.
“We have some good hitters,” Wagaman said. “My two middle hitters are coming back from last year. Rachel Hollowell is only a sophomore and she’s getting into hitting. Last year she was a little timid. She’ll probably be a big force for us.
“Whitney Lewis is a senior. Whatever you ask her to do, she will do. She’ll kind of be the cornerstone of the team.”
Lewis, a high-flying, powerful striker who is one of the better athletes in the area, was forced into a setter role during a preseason scrimmage against Washington. Lewis should be able to return to her former position as hitter when sophomore Jordan Cooke returns as the setter.
Wagaman is counting on players like Lewis, senior Savanna Boyd and Cooke to lead the team.
“I hope Savanna Boyd steps up,” Wagaman said. “Having a sophomore setter in Jordan, I hope she has enough maturity to step up and be the leader. We need that leader setter.”
Lewis said she and her teammates will have to work together in order to have a successful season.
“Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork (is the key),” Lewis said. “We can’t get mad at each other. We did that a lot last year.”
The Northside squad, which also consists of senior Shannon Cuthrell, juniors Sara Credle, Liza Paul, Brittany Ward, sophomore Megan Bell and freshman Jordan Woolard, hasn’t spent a whole lot of time on the floor together as a team. With just a few official practices under their belt, the Panthers open regular season play today at North Pitt.
“It’s not much time (top prepare),” Wagaman said. “On the first day of tryouts, even before I’ve picked my team, I’m starting on offense and defense and how to do things. For them to learn it so quick, you have to. You have to schedule your practices well and spend a lot of time doing stuff instead of doing a lot of meaningless drills.”
Boyd believes her team will be ready for the season opener.
“We’ve been practicing every day,” Boyd said. “We had conditioning over the summer. We’re ready to go.”
After today’s opener, the Panthers play their first home match Thursday against Columbia. Wagaman is hoping her team can notch some early victories.
“I think it’s really crucial because it gives girls confidence,” Wagaman said. “You don’t want them to be beaten down when you get to conference play.
“I’m hoping we come out strong, even though we have North Pitt right off the bat. It would be great to get some good wins in early.”
Wagaman’s junior varsity team is comprised of nine freshman and one sophomore. The sophomore is Mariah Hawkins, while the freshman class consists of Jordan Woolard (who will also play on varsity), Caroline Slade, Danielle Oliver, Citlaly Lopez, Brittany Alligood, Roxanne Respess, Marta Oneal, Summer Cordon and Savanna Selby.
“We have promise,” Wagaman said. “It’s looking up.”