By Ben Brooks - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- One day after surviving a tough road test at Liberty, the Sherando High School volleyball team wanted to come out strong and make an early season statement.
Sherando dominated every phase of the game Tuesday night in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-7, 25-14) nondistrict home victory over Clarke County. The win, which took just 45 minutes, was Sherando's second over the Eagles this season.
Middle hitter Brooke Schneider, who came up big in Sherando's season-opening win at Clarke County, was again too much for the Eagles to handle at the net. The 6-foot junior keyed a 12-0 run midway through the first set that established the tone for the match. Schneider had three blocks and a kill during Megan Sirbaugh's service run to help the Warriors go from an 8-6 lead to a comfortable 20-6 advantage. The three blocks came during a four-point span as Schneider seemingly dared the Eagles to send anything over the middle of the net. She finished the match with seven kills and eight blocks.
"Last year I put her in the middle and told her to just concentrate on blocking," Warriors coach Chuck Ashby said of Schneider. "If we got anything else with her hitting, that would be a bonus. This year I wanted her to learn the offense more and be ready to hit. I think she's done that."
Like many of Sherando's players, Schneider now plays volleyball year-round and credits that for her improved all-around play.
"It's helped me a lot," Schneider said. "It keeps you going throughout the season. When one season stops another one starts, so you keep on playing."
Schneider had plenty of help Tuesday night. Morgan Sirbaugh led all hitters with nine kills and teammate Lauren Wilkins added eight. Most of all, though, Ashby wanted to see improved serving from his team, an area that let the Warriors down Monday at Liberty. His players didn't disappoint. Sherando had 11 aces compared to just eight service errors. In the second set, Morgan Sirbaugh nearly matched her sister Megan's 11-point run earlier with 10 straight service points.
"We were just doing whatever we could to get them in," said Morgan Sirbaugh, who matched Megan's four aces. "Consistency was the main thing. We concentrated more on just getting them in."
Clarke County coach Mary Brune wasn't pleased with her team's receiving of serve, but she also credited the experienced Warriors with creating many of her team's miscues.
"They had some aggressive serves," said Brune, whose Eagles fell to 2-2. "We never could handle it to have any kind of attack. And they have an excellent attack."
It's still early, but Ashby sees some good things from a team that returned four starters from last year's Northwestern District regular-season title.
"We're still trying to get our offense going at a faster pace and score some points quickly," Ashby said. "We've got the athletes and the hitters to do it. If we can, hopefully we'll get by some people."