By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County hosted Clarke County on Thursday night in each teams' second match of the young 2010 volleyball season. Coming off of an opening-night victory, the Wildcats hoped to pull off the same against a much more experienced Eagles squad.
The Eagles, on the other hand, were coming off a loss in three straight sets and hoped to bounce back on the right foot in the non-district match. From the opening serve, both teams battled back and forth, trading the good with the bad as they came to a draw after four sets to send the match into a fifth and final set.
"I am very proud of our team tonight," first-year Wildcats coach Scott Wilde said. "None of our players have ever played a fifth game and the nerves started to show when that set got under way."
Clarke showed its experience in the final set, led by Brianna Harrell's four service aces, as the Eagles took advantage of Wildcats mistakes and, coupled with Brianna Harrell's four service aces, notched the victory, 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15.12).
"It was a great game tonight," Eagles coach Mary Brune said. "Warren County is a much, much better team from last year and we gave up some points that we shouldn't have, but a win is a win. I'll take it any way we can get it."
The Wildcats took control early in the first set as they appeared to be a much improved squad from last year. Warren used a stiff defense and advantageous offense to build a quick lead and carried a five-point lead at 21-16. After a timeout, the Eagles came out resilient as they ran off nine straight points to win the first set and deliver a blow to the Wildcats.
Warren was able to shake it off, however, as the Wildcats took the second set after both teams again battled evenly to a 22-22 stalemate. With a game-point opportunity, senior Rachel Cerretani delivered with a service ace to end the game.
The two teams would trade sets again in the third and fourth, respectively, to set up the fifth-set showdown. Leading 5-4 in the set, Harrell stepped up to the service line.
With four consecutive aces, the Eagles gained momentum and swayed the tide to take a five-point lead. After a brief counter from the Wildcats, Ammie Levi sealed Warren's fate with a block at the net to score the final point and give her team the victory.
"I am very pleased with our team's performance tonight," Brune said. "Bri [Harrell] did a great job for us in the fifth set and we played all 13 of our players. I wanted to get them all playing time because you never know when you might have to send someone in a pressure situation. This was definitely good for our team to play in [a] stressful environment."
Chelsea Nelson recorded 12 kills and teammate Kasey Canterbury added 10 assists on the night for the Eagles.
Despite the loss, the Wildcats remained upbeat and positive about their outlook on the season.
"I am so excited about our season," Wilde said. "We have a group of great girls with good chemistry and they stick together. They hustled all night, and we are going to battle every game and do our best and see how it turns out."