09/09/18 — LOCAL NOTIONS: Warriors finally show some fight on volleyball court

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LOCAL NOTIONS: Warriors finally show some fight on volleyball court

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 9, 2018 3:05 AM

Anna Hajjar pulled up a chair.

She sat down and took a moment to wipe a couple of tears from her eyes.

The salty drops didn't come from disappointment, but from pure joy, instead.

Hajjar finally saw the fight from her volleyball team that she expected from day one.

The Warriors scrapped, clawed, dove and hustled for every loose ball during their five-set loss to volleyball arch rival Charles B. Aycock on Thursday.

That desire gave Hajjar goosebumps.

Eastern Wayne sent a clear message that it may have found its identity as first-half play winds down on the Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference scene.

"I don't really care about us losing because we've had several losses already," Hajjar said. "It's about maturing into volleyball athletes and not just be someone who comes on the court. We need girls who care, and they all care."

The Warriors hadn't gone the distance against an opponent until they met Aycock.

In fact, they had won just nine sets total in their previous eight matches.

The Golden Falcons surged ahead 2-0 on the strength of consistent passing and solid hitting from the pins.

Eastern Wayne, somehow, revived a heartbeat that had been on life support.

Unlike the first two sets, Paige Neiman became more of a vocal leader on the court.

Alana Kazar and libero Bethaney Williams displayed their tenacity on defense.

Ziomara Williams and Demya Yelverton emerged as forces on the front row.

A once-silent bench shouted encouragement and cheered every play with bravado.

The momentum clearly shifted when the Warriors took the third set.

Eastern Wayne kept its composure during tension-filled moments in the fourth and fifth sets. Victoria Patnaude's solo block and an unforced error on match point prevented Hajjar's team from halting a three-match skid against Aycock.

The loss might have stung a little, but the Warriors didn't show any outward emotion.

The teams met at midcourt, shook hands and know they'll meet each other again in 26 days at Pikeville.

That gives Eastern Wayne more time to grow, mature and build confidence.

And maybe Hajjar can finally enjoy a win, not because it ends a losing streak, but because the fruits of the players' labor will have paid a well-deserved reward.