By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando needed to rebound after a poor showing in a 3-0 loss at Kettle Run on Monday, and the Warriors did just that with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-16) sweep of their own against visiting Washington (W. Va.) on Tuesday.
The Warriors (6-2) looked sharp on offense and defense against the Patriots on Tuesday, a good sign for head coach Chuck Ashby as Sherando prepares to begin Northwestern District play at James Wood next week.
"We had a really rough game [Monday] night at Kettle Run. We had no focus, we had no defense, no nothing," Ashby said. "I put a little fear of God in them. We've got districts coming up next week. I said, 'I don't want to go through districts trying to do lineups and trying different things -- you guys have to find some consistency.' We looked better tonight."
Sherando benefited from a balanced offensive attack, led by the senior trio of Jessica Henry, Cassandra Slater and Ryan Magalis. Henry led all players with 12 kills, and Slater added nine kills while Magalis tallied eight.
Sherando needed five sets to beat Washington (1-6) in their last meeting on Sept. 6, and Henry said Tuesday's sweep is a testament to the improvement of the Warriors' offense over the last two weeks.
"Going three games kind of shows how hard we've been working in practice to quicken our offense and better our defense, and I think we did that pretty well and executed it," Henry said. "We can feel that we're definitely playing more as a team and helping each other out."
The two teams battled closely through the early part of the first set as an ace by Washington's Alycia Lambert pulled the Patriots to within a point with Sherando holding a 10-9 edge. Sherando extended the lead to 17-12 thanks to four Washington errors and a kill by Henry.
Henry and Slater recorded back-to-back kills to record what should have been the final two points of the game to end the set with a 25-17 score, but the scoreboard operator mistakenly awarded several of Sherando's points to Washington earlier in the set. A service error by Lambert one exchange later ended the set with the scoreboard reading 25-19.
Sherando dominated the second set, jumping out to a 7-3 lead after back-to-back kills by Magalis and a kill by Slater. After a timeout by Washington, the Warriors pushed the lead to 16-6 before Magalis scored three kills in four exchanges late in the set to give Sherando a 25-12 win.
"We just didn't work our strategy," said Patriots coach Tammy Palmer. "We knew what they were going to do -- they like to tip. We had one blocker pull out with one blocker in the middle. We practiced that yesterday, we knew what they did against us last time, and we knew they weren't going to change that. We knew where to be, we just weren't there."
Sherando jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the final set as Slater slammed back-to-back kills before Washington finally got on the board on a kill by Christina Collins. But the trio of Henry, Slater and Magalis proved too much for the Patriots as each tallied three kills in the set.
Henry and Slater also added a block each in the third game, and Magalis served an ace.
Senior Elizabeata Leinhard led Washington with nine kills, and Amber Curry had three aces for the Patriots.
The win gives Sherando some momentum heading into next Tuesday's road match at James Wood, which is sure to be a tough test for the Warriors as they open district play.
"It's going to be crazy," Henry said of next week's district-opener. "We've both been playing pretty well, so hopefully it's going to be an intense, good open match to start with for districts."