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Panthers outlast Wildcats


By Robert Edmonds -- sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Teams grow and develop throughout a season with the opportunities they have to play together in live action. Two teams with very little game experience took the court on Thursday night when Warren County hosted the Panthers from Page County in volleyball action.

With only five seniors combined between the two teams, the lack of playing time as a group was evident as the question quickly became which team would commit the fewest errors. The Panthers were able to fend off the pesky Wildcats as they won in three sets (26-24, 25-23, 25-20).

"It wasn't a pretty volleyball game tonight," Page County coach Alan Knight said. "We were just able to outlast them tonight. There was no rhythm by either team."

In the first set, both teams traded points as the first eight points were scored on errors. Senior Brittany Wolfe then gave Page County the lead at 5-4 with the first kill of the night and 12 more points ensued by virtue of team errors.

After leading much of the first set, the Panthers fell behind when Warren County freshman Rachel Cerretani found a hole in the Panthers' defense to put her team ahead, 18-17. The Wildcats could not hold the lead for long as they fell behind and committed three team errors to close the match and give the Panthers a victory in the first set.

"I think we beat ourselves in the first set," Wildcats coach Cathy Brill said. "We missed eight serves alone. That is the most we have had in one set that I can remember."

Both teams continued to battle, hoping to find some continuity on the court in the second set. The two teams continued to teeter back and forth trading points. Tied at 11, the Panthers scored five consecutive points on Wildcat errors to build a gap that Warren County was unable to close as Page held on to take a two-game lead.

"We are getting better and the girls kept working hard," Knight said. "We are inexperienced and young. We have two seniors who saw playing time last year, two juniors who played about half the season, and the rest have virtually no playing experience at the varsity level."

With a tough deficit to overcome and trailing again in the third set, the Wildcats would not fold as they continued to battle. Trailing by five, Warren County reeled off five straight points with sophomore Brooke Rutherford at the service line. Cerretani and Alyson Fox each added a kill during the streak and it appeared the momentum was shifting.

"We had some good hustle and great digs," Brill said. "We just weren't able to get much attacking on offense. You have to give credit to Page though, they were able to dig on a lot of our attacks."

Page County had other ideas however, as they regained the lead and after an injury timeout reeled off seven of the next nine points to finish the game and shut out the Wildcats.

"We are going to keep trying to get better," Knight said. "The girls are working hard and still getting used to each other. If we work as a team, and we're going to have to play scrappy, we will be able to be a competitive team this year."

Despite the loss, Brill remained positive and feels her team will continue to work towards a common direction and goal.

"I am proud of the girls and how they kept playing tonight," Brill said. "We will be facing Central on Tuesday and we are still working on getting everyone together. We will keep working hard and stay committed to playing as a team."



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