By Dennis Atwood -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Central Falcons coasted to an easy first set win in their non-district volleyball match with the Warren County Wildcats on Tuesday night, but they had to go full-throttle the rest of the way. The Falcons were running on fumes at the end, as they took a 3-1 (25-13, 26-24, 26-28, 27-25) win.
Fresh off a 3-0 sweep of Broadway on Thursday, the Falcons jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the first set, on three kills, a block, and an ace by senior hitter Brea Hinegardner, two kills and two blocks by junior hitter Marissa Brandon, and two blocks and a kill by junior Lindsey Toothman.
Hinegardner had eight kills, three aces and three blocks on the night.
The Wildcats managed only two offensive scores in the set, on one kill each by junior middle hitter Robin Mikulak and freshman middle hitter Alyson Fox and committed 10 service errors. Central finished it out with an 8-5 run led by two kills from Hinegardner and a kill by senior Leeana Baker.
After a 6-6 tie in the second set, Central (4-4) reclaimed control in reaching a seemingly insurmountable 20-12 lead. The Wildcats quickly rallied with an 8-1 run.
Two Central errors, two kills by Warren County's Katie Robinson, and a block and a kill by Mikulak helped the Wildcats narrow the margin to 21-20.
The Wildcats made three attack errors and the Falcons made a service error to make the score 23-21 in favor of the Falcons.
Junior Haley Cahill subbed in for the Falcons and launched an ace. Then Central was called for a violation, Robinson got another kill for the Wildcats, and the Falcons committed an attack error after a long rally, to create a 24-24 tie. The Wildcats then presented Central with a huge present by committing a service error and an attack error for the 26-24 Falcons' win.
Warren County opened the third set with a 7-0 run with Robinson serving three aces, with kills by Mikulak and senior outside hitter Brooke Magalis, and two Central attack errors.
The Wildcats found their groove in building an 18-10 lead on two more Robinson kills, a kill by Milulak, while the Falcons committed three service errors and an attack error.
The Falcons responded with an 11-3 run to create a 21-21 tie, before kills by Magalis and Mikulak returned the lead to the Wildcats.
Toothman smacked two aces for the Falcons and Baker served an ace to put Central up 26-25. A service error and an attack error by the Falcons, followed by Warren County sophomore Brooke Rutherford's kill gave the Wildcats the set.
Central built an early 8-6 lead in the fourth set. Then the Wildcats ripped off a 7-0 run, followed by a 7-1 surge from the Falcons for a 15-14 lead.
Tied at 23-23, a Warren County error and two Falcons' errors gave the Wildcats a 25-24 lead. Toothman then slammed a kill, and the Wildcats presented the biggest gift of the match, with two attack errors to create the 27-25 win for Central.
Toothman had eight kills, three aces and two blocks and Ashley Blodge contributed 11 assists for the Falcons.
"It was great that we came back, especially with those two-point margins," Hinegardner said. "We tried to keep our confidence up like we did in the first [set], because if we could do that, there wouldn't be any two-point deficits."
Warren County was unable to build on its first win of season, over Harrisonburg in the Spotswood Blazer Classic on Saturday, and fell to 1-9. They will open Evergreen District play against Kettle Run on Thursday.
"I'm really proud of the team," Wildcats coach Cathy Brill said. "This is the most blocks we've had in any match, with eight, Mikulak had four. We started off slow, but came back fighting and fighting and played really strong."