Pack wins thriller

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Washington’s Sydney Gurkin (center) hits the ball during the Pam Pack’s 3-2 victory over West Carteret on Tuesday at Washington. The win was the Pack’s first conference victory in three years. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

A hot start and a great finish was enough to mask a rough middle stretch for the Washington volleyball team as it pulled out a five-game thriller over West Carteret on Tuesday.
The Pam Pack cruised in the first game, winning 25-12, before falling 25-15 and 25-20 in the next two games. The two teams battled neck-and-neck in the fourth game but Washington legged out a 26-24 victory to set up a winner-take-all scenario in the fifth and final game. It was in there that Washington dug deep and pulled out a 15-3 victory to earn its first Coastal Conference win in three years.
“It means a lot to us, the girls are really excited,” said Washington’s first-year coach Kelly Slade. “I think now that we know we can do it, and can come out in this conference and get some wins, we will continue to do it.”
The Pam Pack, which has not won a game since its season-opening victory over Northside, came out strong as it exhibited good teamwork to take an early advantage.
Slade said it was the team’s return to that style of play that helped it earn its second win of the year.
“I think our girls started playing together as a team and they were doing a bunch of things that they were doing the first game,” Slade said. “They kind of went out on me in the middle but they finished up strong.”
Washington got a tremendous effort from net players Megan Corey and Robin Lilley, while the scrappy senior Sydney Gurkin seemed to be everywhere. Also putting forth a solid game were Morgan Bryant, Justice McKissick, Lacie Anglim, Haley Wright, Alana Jefferson and Adrianna Tyson.
While the Pack had its moments of brilliance, both teams self-destructed at different times in the game. While the Patriots faded at the end, the Pack struggled in Games 2 and 3.
After being tied at 8-8, Washington could only muster seven more points the rest of the second match as it fell 25-15.
In the third match, the two teams were tied at 18 before the Pats put together a 7-2 run.
Unforced errors killed Washington especially in its serving game.
“I thought we did a great job serving today and being consistent with our serves,” Slade said. “But, I think we need to work on our own serve-receive, we have to always be ready for the ball. But, we are a young team, it’s my first year with this team and we start two freshmen. It’s just something that we’re working through and working to get better at every day.”
Slade her team must do a better job of not dwelling on its errors.
“It’s about being strong and being able to come back,” Slade said. “We know that we have the skill to do it, it’s just that when we make mistakes we have to move on and forget about it.”
The Pam Pack have been able to get off to good starts in most of its games, and Slade said the big challenge for her team as it enters its next game Thursday on the road against Jacksonville is to be able to sustain that play.
“It’s something that we’re working on. We go out and win those first games but we have to focus more in the middle games,” Slade said. “So far it’s been a trend, but I think our big thing is to just keep them focused.”