By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Host Sherando held off visiting Spotswood for the second time in a seven-day span, sweeping the Trailblazers 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-22) on Monday to improve to 4-1 on the young season.
Spotswood didn't make it easy for the Warriors, but Sherando was able to overcome a five-point deficit midway through the third set to preserve the sweep.
"That was our goal tonight, three [sets]," said Warriors coach Chuck Ashby. "Spotswood's a good club and [Trailblazers head coach Jim Roth] made some changes to his hitters, which kind of opened up a little bit."
Ashby said Monday's match was a breakthrough match for the Warriors, who have been using the first several games to find the rotation that gives Sherando the biggest advantage on the floor.
"I've tinkered with the lineup for three weeks now, and I feel like it's rolling," Ashby said. "We're touching the ball, we're getting rallies that we weren't getting in previous games last week. I'm happy -- it's getting there."
Sherando didn't need much offense in the opening half of the first set, as Spotswood practically handed the Warriors nine of their first 12 points of the night.
With Spotswood (0-3) leading 4-2 early in the set, the Trailblazers committed seven errors in a 10-point span. That allowed Sherando to take a 12-4 lead, and back-to-back aces by Warriors junior Alaina Combs pushed Sherando's lead to 10 points.
Spotswood battled back, pulling to within a point when a kill by Trailblazers junior Tayler Dodson made the score 20-19. But the Warriors answered with back-to-back kills by senior Jessica Henry and Combs, and a Spotswood attack error a few exchanges later sealed Sherando's 25-20 win.
"It was very intense," said Henry. "We came out, we were already very pumped. We got into a little bit of a hole but we came back. I think we got a little more relaxed and then we just went all out and tried to find the spots."
Errors continued to be a problem for Spotswood in the second set as three straight Trailblazer miscues started a 10-2 run for Sherando. Warriors senior Cassie Slater recorded two of her match-high five blocks during the run, and also added a thunderous kill on a free-ball at the net.
The Trailblazers committed 12 errors in the 25-16 second-set loss, and 32 for the entire match.
"Still too many mistakes -- we're not very consistent," Roth said. "We put together some good runs, but we can't put together a whole game. Part of that is that Sherando is a good team. Unfortunately, part of it was us tonight."
Spotswood put together a much more consistent attack in the third set to jump out to a 15-10 lead. Trailblazers senior Alyse High (team-high eight kills) fired four kills and a block during the span, and Dodson added a pair of kills for Spotswood.
Sherando slowly cut into the deficit before Slater recorded a kill, a block and another kill to give the Warriors a 19-18 lead. Spotswood reclaimed the lead on an ace by Megan Miller, but the combination of Slater and Henry came through in a big way for Sherando.
Henry tallied a kill to tie the score at 21-all, and Slater followed with a kill to give the Warriors a one-point advantage. Sherando sophomore Erica Scully then picked up a big block at the net, and Henry recorded two kills in the final three exchanges to give Sherando the win.
"That's what this team has that I think even some of the teams I've had in the past haven't always had, is the heart to finish a game," Ashby said. "We didn't panic, we didn't get flustered -- so I'm happy."
Slater led the Warriors with nine kills, seven of which came in the final set. Henry added seven kills and an ace.