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By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County and Skyline's girls volleyball teams battled Tuesday for county bragging rights before a loud, raucous crowd. In the end it was the Wildcats, backed by a strong performance at the net by Jade Rowe, who prevailed 3-0 (25-21, 25-12, 25-13).
"We were really looking towards this match, and we've been working hard for the last week to get ready for this," Wildcats coach Scott Wilde said. "We served well tonight, and just kept feeding the ball to Jade [Rowe]. They have nothing to answer her with. She's really starting to dominate at the net."
The first set of the match at Warren County was fittingly close considering the near-capacity crowd and the stakes. Seven Hawks (7-4) and Wildcats (5-1) produced kills and were still only separated by two points after 42 points.
Skyline kept Warren County on the ropes early in the set by spreading the ball around on offense. Tara Robinson, Jessica Saddler, Sarah Beamer, Courtney Massey, Jenny Norman, and Lindsay Lehew all had one kill in the set, and Heather Pomeroy had two kills from her position in the back.
The Hawks, who had committed 15 service errors the night before against Rappahannock County, reduced that to six for the night, and just three in the opening set. They also produced four aces against the Wildcats.
All of the that, however, had little impact on Warren County who responded with a barrage of kills at the net. The Wildcats generated 13 kills in the first set, including two each from three different players, and three from hitter Alyson Fox.
With Warren County leading 24-21, a service error by Beamer gave the Wildcats the set.
"We definitely came out flat tonight," Hawks coach Lesley Detweiler said. "I don't know if it was nerves or the crowd here. But this was not the way we usually play volleyball. Hopefully we can turn things around this week and get ready for district play,"
Although the Hawks jumped ahead early 7-5, Rowe's play at the net gave Warren County a commanding superiority at the net that Skyline could never overcome. The Wildcat junior nailed six kills in the set, and finished the match with a match-high nine for Warren County.
Her play was particularly effective in the closing moments of the set, scoring two of the last three kills of the set. The set-winner, however, came from a kill by freshman Autumn Troxell.
Troxell didn't play like a typical freshman, though, scoring on five kills, and a block for the Wildcats.
"Autumn [Troxell] still gets nervous before a match," Wilde said. "But she a made some big hits tonight.
The Hawks battled valiantly in the final set to get back into the match, and were doing well through the early exchanges. But after a kill by Troxell and three straight aces by Wildcats setter Sydney Anderson, Warren County took a comfortable 11-6 lead.
Warren County put the set and the match out of reach later when Brooke Rutherford stepped to the service line. Two aces by the Warren County senior sparked a seven-point run that left the Hawks trailing 22-13. A pair of kills by Troxell and another by Fox finished off the match.
Fox finished the match with five kills and an ace for Warren County, and Rutherford contributed five kills and two aces in the Wildcats' win.
Saddler led the Hawks with five kills and two aces.
"We had a really loud crowd tonight, but we get this whenever we play Warren County no matter what sport it is," Detweiler said. "But it's really exciting to play in front a crowd like the one here tonight. It does generate some nervousness, but it's also a lot of fun to play in front of a packed house like we did tonight. Both sidelines were really into the game, and it really fired up everyone."