By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Just call her Sydney Chrane, rally killer.
That's the role Chrane, Clarke County's talented middle hitter, played during Tuesday night's 3-0 (25-20, 25-10, 25-16) volleyball victory over Bull Run District rival Central.
Chrane did her job in the middle, piling on 12 kills to finish points for the Eagles. She also did her job from the service line, racking up six aces among her eight service points in the win.
That service game was symptomatic, as the Eagles extended service run after service run with a flurry of aces. Ammie Levi had four among her match-best 17 service points, and Isabella Eyles chipped in three aces and nine service points.
"We do have good servers, but when we played Handley last week we missed eight serves in a row," Clarke County coach Mary Brune said. "We've been doing a lot of serving since the Handley match."
In the first set, all that extra practice helped the Eagles pull through. After Central (0-7, 0-1 Bull Run) surged back from an early five-point deficit to tie the set at 20-20 on Tiffany Riggs' kill to the backline, Eyles went to work.
Her kill put Clarke County (3-4, 1-0) ahead, then she rattled off back-to-back aces. Chrane then delivered the last of her seven first-set kills to put the Eagles within a point of the win, and the Falcons answered with an out-of-bounds hit to end it.
The Falcons couldn't match their first-set intensity after that, falling behind 17-7 under another assault of kills and aces from the Eagles. Chrane took over from there with a four-point service run that featured back-to-back aces. Eyles ended the set with another kill.
"Sydney has a hateful serve, too," Brune said. "She's not serving up and over -- she's sort of serving straight and down. She has just enough omph on it that you have to respect it the whole way."
Central had trouble stopping the Eagles' solid hitters, and trouble with the serve-return game sped up their demise.
"It always stinks to lose a set, but you have to get over it," Central junior setter Katelyn Foltz said. "You have to start fresh every set, whether you win or lose."
Central bounced back for a while in the third set, keeping pace with Clarke for a 4-4 tie early. Levi then put together a seven-point service run of her own featuring three aces and a pair of Chrane kills to put the Eagles up 11-4. Central pulled back within four at 14-10 on a Clarke hitting error, but that was as close as the Falcons could get.
"They're a good all-around team," Foltz said. "I think we could play with them. We just had a tough night."
Chrane finished with 12 kills, and Levi and Eyles added four apiece. Brune was happy with the play of setter Stephanie Nelson, making her first start in place of the injured Amelia Erickson.
"Stephanie stepped up and did a really nice job as setter," Brune said. "I was really pleased. I've been letting her set a little bit during games, but this was her first match."
For Central, Morgan Davis had two aces and Foltz tallied three dinks.
Foltz said despite the tough start, the Falcons are doing fine and working each day in practice.
"We care when we lose -- we just try to move on after each game and leave it in the past," Foltz said.