By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- Erin Goodier dominated the middle at the net to score the last four points in the fourth set, including the match-winning spike, for home-standing Stonewall Jackson as the Generals topped county rival Strasburg, 3-1 (25-16, 26-24, 21-25, 25-21) in volleyball action on Thursday.
Future opponents might want to check Goodier's shoes for hidden springs, as the 5-foot-10 senior played her middle blocker position about as well as could be done, with three of those close-out four points coming on down blocks.
Goodier had at total of nine blocks (four as down blocks for points) and nine kills, to go along with three aces for the match.
"The whole time, I'd been trying to figure out [Strasburg's] hitters, to try to block them, and, just at the end, I started to figure it out and to be where I needed to be for a lot more blocks," Goodier said. "We played really well. We were really scrappy. [Beating Strasburg] is awesome."
The match started extremely well for the Generals, as senior setter Michaela Koontz opened the first set by holding serve throughout a 10-0 run, including two aces, as Goodier had three kills and two blocks.
The Generals (3-1) maintained their lead throughout the set, with the Rams (1-4) never drawing closer than a six-point deficit and committing a service error and an attack error to give Stonewall Jackson its 24th and 25th points.
The second set was dramatically different as Strasburg moved out to an 11-5 lead, then committed four consecutive attack errors and a palming violation to let the Generals back into the mix at 11-10.
After reaching a 14-14 tie, the squads engaged in six successive ties and three lead changes until matters stood at 22-22.
Setter Marissa Doman then served two consecutive aces to put the Rams on the verge of victory at 24-22.
But the error bug bit Strasburg again, with their sixth service error and 19th attack error knotting the score at 24.
The Generals capitalized with a kill by Michaela Koontz and an ace by Alllison Singleton to eke out a 26-24 win.
The Rams got their act together in the third set, which was also closely contested, with eight ties and six lead changes, to reach 20-20.
The Generals then made their 10th attack error and Laura Taylor served an ace to give the Rams a 22-20 advantage before Taylor Koontz managed to convert a dig into a kill for the Generals.
The Rams closed out the set with a kill by Julia Morikawa, and ace by Christian Hepner and Allison Bromley's 10th kill as the set-winner.
Bromley, a junior middle hitter, led the Strasburg offense with 12 kills on the night, including several that landed just inside the back line and plenty of high-jumping spikes, and added three aces.
"I try to go wherever there's an open spot and sometimes hit cross-court or to the back line," Bromley said. "I participated in summer camp at Christopher Newport University to help improve my game."
Lindsey Painter, a 6-1 sophomore hitter, slammed 10 kills for the Rams, while Morikawa led the Rams' servers with seven aces and Christian Hepner launched four serves that weren't returned.
Allison Strother contributed eight kills to the Generals' attack, Taylor Koontz made 17 digs and served seven aces, and her sister Michaela made 15 assists.
The Rams showed they are in a rebuilding year as evidenced by their 27 attack errors and 13 service errors to 12 and 9 in those areas, for the Generals.
"We made four errors in a row in [set] four and that ends up being the difference," Rams head coach Suzanne Mathias said. "We know what we need to work on.
"The [players] do things correctly in practice, they just don't carry that onto the floor. And they need to believe in themselves."
The Rams won the first of their head-to-head matches, 3-2, last Thursday, giving the Generals a split with the Rams.
"It's always good to get a win in the county," Generals coach Jamie Armentrout said. "It's always a close rivalry, and with us not being in the same district, it's always nice to start our season off with those tough games and build morale."
"The ladies played well together. They played as a six on the floor. Everybody did their part. And we made good sets, with few errors, and that's how you win games.
"It's a great way to finish up [the noon-district matches] and get ready for East Rockingham on Tuesday."