By Jerry Holsworth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Millbrook warmed up for its Northwestern District girls volleyball opener tonight with Handley by sweeping Hedgesville, 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-15) on Wednesday.
The undefeated Pioneers (4-0) were led by hitter Devon Courneya, who registered 16 kills, four aces, and a block for the night.
"This was really fun, and I thought that we really played well together," Courneya said. "I'm excited about finally getting district play started, especially since we're playing Handley."
Although Millbrook won each of its sets, the Eagles (1-2) proved to be resilient throughout the match. The Pioneers were able to build what seemed to be insurmountable leads in each of the three sets, only to watch Hedgesville fight back into the contest.
"That's one of the things that we're going to have to work on," Millbrook coach Kim Riordan said. "It seems that we have a tendency to play in streaks. We need to play up to our level for the whole match."
All three sets followed this pattern. The Pioneers, thanks to a pair of kills by Courneya and Anna Comer, jumped ahead 4-0 in the first set, but let the Eagles close to 6-5.
Millbrook broke away from Hedgesville midway through the set. Courneya had the set-winner on a hard kill.
The second set was even closer. Millbrook was never able to build much of lead throughout the game. After an ace by Courneya put the Pioneers within one point of victory, Hedgesville took advantage of two unforced errors to draw within three. Millbrook, however, was able to pull out the win when a kill attempt by Eagle hitter Tiffany Thomas sailed into the net.
"Millbrook had a very good team," Hedgesville coach Susan Davis said. "We didn't pass very well, and we shot ourselves in the foot a few times when we had a chance to come back."
The third set was very close until late in the game. Neither side could mount more than a 2-point lead for most of the set. Eagle hitter Danielle Hoffmaster kept her team close, registering two kills and two blocks. The Hedgesville junior finished the night with two kills, three blocks, and two aces.
"We're young and we have to rely on our defense to be competitive," Davis said. "We got some great work at the net with those blocks in Game 3. It just wasn't enough."
With the Pioneers holding a narrow 10-8 lead, the Millbrook front line took charge of the game. Gennie McGuirk joined Courneya on the front line and dominated the Eagles defense.
McGuirk scored on four kills in the third set, finishing the match with nine. The Pioneer senior also scored on four aces and a block. Millbrook got the match-winner when a serve by Eagle Lauren Hockenberry failed to clear the net.
"I really have to give a lot of credit to our girls," Riordan said. "They didn't let Hedgesville come back and take a game from us. We let them have some runs, but we never let our heads down, and we were able to come back and win."
Comer had five kills for the Pioneers, and setter Jordan Orndoff scored on a pair of kills and an ace. Hedgesville was led by Hockenberry with six kills for the night.