By Stephen Boyle - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Despite strong showings from senior Jade Rowe and sophomore Autumn Troxell, Warren County dropped an Evergreen District volleyball match to Kettle Run on Thursday in straight sets.
The Cougars beat the Wildcats 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 15-15) to hand Warren County its second loss of the season.
"My girls fought hard," Warren County coach Sarah Putnam said after the game. "We made some errors at big moments in the game and Kettle Run is a good team, so they capitalized on that."
Putnam said she knew Warren County had a tough task ahead of it and the practice intensity was a little higher than usual for the district matchup. Although the Wildcats were unable to come up with the win, they played strong on the defensive side of the net.
"I thought we blocked pretty well," Putnam said.
Rowe had 10 blocks in the match, while Troxell and senior Katy Harriman each posted two. Kettle Run used a varied hitting attack and defensive shifts to neutralize the Wildcats' strong net play.
"We had a very balanced hitting attack," Kettle Run coach Bri West said.
The Cougars had four players with five kills or more. Senior Alyson Kroll led all Cougars with seven kills. Junior Melvina Brown and senior Taylor Holmeseach recorded six, and junior Rebecca McGilvery had five kills.
In the first set, Kettle Run jumped ahead 11-5 thanks to three kills by setter Eve Williamson. Williamson only posted three kills in the entire match, but also assisted 30 points for the Cougars. Rowe brought the Wildcats back within two from the service line. She served five straight points, including two aces, to make it 16-14, but the Wildcats only managed one more point in the set, falling 25-15.
The second set was the closest of the three. Warren County led 7-6 early thanks to kills by Rowe and Troxell. Rowe finished the set with eight kills, while Troxell led all players with 10. Katy Harriman added six kills of her own.
The Cougars pulled away 13-8 midway through the set. Putnam called a timeout and successfully broke up the run, but the Cougars never looked back and won the set 25-19.
Although Warren County scored first in the third set on a block by Rowe, Williamson served six straight points afterward to give the Cougars an early 7-1 lead. The Wildcats were never closer than 12-8 and dropped the third set by the same score as the first, 25-15.
The loss is only Warren County's second of the season, giving them an 8-2 record this year. Kettle Run is 9-5, with two losses to James Wood, but the Cougars are a perfect 2-0 in district play.
"This was a huge game for us," West said of the win.