By Dennis Atwood -- firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- After making 18 service errors in a loss to Wilson Memorial last week, coach Sophie Stout emphasized serving to her Stonewall Jackson Generals volleyball team.
The advice paid off as the Generals made zero service errors in their 25-2 first-game domination of the Clarke County Eagles on Thursday in a non-district match.
Showing no quit, the Eagles clawed their way out of that deep hole to win the third game 28-26. But the Generals won Game 2 (25-18) and Game 4 (25-17) to take the match 3-1.
"I'm pretending the first game didn't exist," Clarke County coach Mary Brune said. "After the first game, I'm like, 'I'm just gonna change everything because you guys didn't show me anything in the first game.'"
Generals senior outside hitter/setter Nadene Pence opened game one with 11 successive serves. The first five points were Eagles attack errors. Then senior Heather Stout scored the first of her 20 kills of the night, with the first of 12 assists by junior setter Whitney Wilkins, and Pence smacked three service aces before the Eagles committed two more attack errors.
Then the Eagles got their first point on a Stonewall Jackson attack error. A kill by junior Amilia Eyles at 16-1 accounted for the final Eagles point of the game.
"Nadene just came out and she served so well to open up the game and then we really stressed about serving in-bounds and being ready to play when the ball is returned and we got out in front," Sophie Stout said. "In the second game we started a little bit sluggish, but then pulled it together."
Quickly putting that opening thrashing out their minds, the Eagles broke out to a 12-6 lead in Game 2.
Down 3-2, junior Meredith Roberts scored a kill and junior Kasey Canterbury stroked two aces during a five-point service run.
There was no differential greater than four points until an Eagles attack error put the Generals up 24-18. Pence then scored the game-winner with an assist from Wilkins.
In Game 3, Clarke County continued to gain momentum that drained away from the Generals.
"In Game 2 we started out shaky in our passing because we have been doing really well with aggressive serves, and that worked well in the first game," Heather Stout said. "In the third game it was just smarter decisions and better play by Clarke."
Neither squad went ahead by more than two until, up 12-10, Stout lashed two kills and Marisa Moomaw fired two aces to put the Generals ahead 16-10.
The Eagles then flew high, going on a 12-4 run to take a 22-20 lead, with Chelsea Nelson contributing two aces, and Amy Hagerdon supporting with two aces and a kill.
Each squad committed an attack error to knot the score at 24-24. Then Eyles scored on a kill for the Eagles and Stout notched a point for the Generals. Hagerdon and Stout exchanged kills to create a 26-26 tie, followed by a Generals attack error.
Then Nelson aced a jump serve for a 28-26 Eagles win. Hagerdon notched up her play in Game 3 with four kills and three aces (eight kills and seven aces on the night).
"We had enough confidence to get Game 4, and I thought we could even get Game 5," Hagerdon said. "I wasn't hitting up to par in Game 1. I wasn't hitting as strong as I normally do and I wasn't being smart."