By Jim Laise - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- In a spirited volleyball match Tuesday night at Clarke County High School, a never quit Warren County team downed the Eagles 3-1 in a non-district contest. It was the opening athletic event at the new building.
"Never relax," said Warren County coach Sarah Putnam.
That was the theme of the evening for a Wildcats team that started out trailing in every set except for the fourth and final competition of the evening, playing before a boisterous crowd.
Warren County won games one, two and four by scores of 25-21, 25-22 and the fourth game, 25-23. Clarke County's victory in the third set came by a 25-18 difference.
"This is true, I say that, 'Never relax,'" reiterated Coach Putnam. "Play like a team; you never relax."
The Wildcats trailed at the outset of every set except the last one. In the decider, they latched onto an early 3-0 lead, only to trail 16-11 before closing out Clarke.
The Eagles are 0-3.
"Yeah, I did want some energy back," said Putnam after the dispiriting third set for the visitors. "[After the lost contest] I just told them to play their [game], which was play together. I didn't focus on one thing."
The Maroon-clad group from Front Royal carried a roster of 10 girls against Clarke's 14-girl roster. This is usually the case, according to Putnam, "but we're pretty experienced."
The Wildcats feature six seniors, three juniors and one sophomore.
"We've been stressing that [playing with composure]," she said.
Even when the momentum changed in the third set, the Wildcats switched benches resolutely and rebounded to take early control of the fourth set.
Clarke County showed no plans of quitting when the Eagles scored seven straight points after trailing 3-0. The match set was tied twice before Clarke scored three straight tallies in two different instances to enjoy a 16-11 cushion.
Warren answered with three straight points of its own. Amanda Troxell, Alyson Fox and Jasmine Ford twice out-dueled the Clarke front line at the net. A service error cost the Eagles a third straight digit. The score was 16-14.
Trailing 18-16, Warren scored another three points in a row. Jade Rowe got two points at the net on a touch kill and block. In between, Fox scored an ace.
Not to be outdone, Clarke County scored four times: on a Warren County attack error, a kill by Sydney Chrane, an ace by Ammie Levi and, after a timeout called by Putnam, the Wildcats batted the ball around a fourth time to trail 23-20. Warren County scored five points to close out the match.
Nicci Hutzell set up attackers and played steady defense for the Wildcats.
"I try to help my team by firing everyone up," Hutzell said. "I try to keep them as positive as I can.
"We never quit. That's just how we are."