By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- The host Stonewall Jackson Generals topped their county rival Central Falcons, 3-1 (25-22, 25-13, 22-25, 25-18), in a non-district volleyball matchup on Tuesday evening.
The Generals (2-1) took the first of the two head-to-head matches against the Falcons, also by 3-1, last Tuesday, as Central (0-5) continues to look for its first win of the season.
The Stonewall Jackson offense was led twin pillars -- 5-foot-11 junior Allison Singleton, with 17 kills, and 5-foot-10 senior Erin Goodier, with 16 kills.
"This year, I've been working really hard to get my hits and my kills to a higher number," Singleton said. "You have to arrange yourself, once you've gone up, so you can take it at the right angle. It's all about judgment once you're up in the air."
Goodier, operating in a new rotation, tallied five kills each in sets one and two, while Singleton connected for six kills in the second set and five in the decisive fourth set.
"We just switched our rotation and it's kinda scary, but we did really well with it," Goodier said.
"[Goodier] did an exceptional job, because this is the first time in several seasons that Erin has played the back row," Generals head coach Jamie Armentrout said. "Not only did she step up with 16 kills up front, but she was playing a whole new rotation in the back, as well."
Singleton and Goodier benefited greatly from the 24 assists on the night provided by setter Michaela Koontz.
Koontz, working with her sister, Taylor Koontz, maintained effective control of the middle of the defensive court.
"I like diving [going for digs]," Michaela Koontz said. "I was really pumped for this game. I did not want to lose it."
After the narrow first-set win, the Generals cruised to a 25-13 second-set win, highlighted by a 9-0 run at 11-7, fueled by five of Goodier's kills, and two kills by Singleton, while Michaela Koontz held serve for eight of those points.
Then the Falcons were able to regain the momentum in the tightly-contested third set.
Trailing 10-8, the Falcons embarked on an 8-0 run, with junior setter Katelyn Foltz launching two aces while holding serve for seven of those points.
After reaching a 16-16 tie, the squads embarked on four more ties and four lead changes until the score was knotted at 22-22.
Central closed out the set with two successive kills by junior middle Tiffany Riggs, followed by the Generals' 12th attack error.
Riggs had six kills in the frame and 10 on the night, roughly doubling her previous season per-game average, an accomplishment matched by teammate junior middle hitter Kyla Strother, who also contributed 10 kills on the night for the Falcons.
"I think we played good in set three because we were talking and had a lot of momentum," Riggs said. "I'm going to try hitting more on the left side because I don't turn my shoulders that much."
"The energy on the court was definitely positive, everyone was really enthusiastic, our adrenaline was going, and we just stepped it up," Strother said.
In the final set, after reaching ties at 8-8 and 10-10, the Generals steadily built their margin, which grew to as much as eight, and never grew narrower than five points.
Leading 22-17, Singleton scored her 17th kill of the match on Michalela Koontz' 24th assist, followed by an ace from Taylor Koontz, then the Generals made an attack error and Central's sixth service error provided the match-winning point.
Both teams registered a low number of service errors, with the Generals making only four to Central's six. The Falcons notched eight aces to seven for the Generals.
Stonewall Jackson did better on attack errors, with 16, while the Falcons made 27.
"We're working on [improving our middle defense]" Falcons coach Allison Hoover said. "Some of kids, coming up from JV, are in transition to playing quicker defense.
"But we've been making a lot of progress with our passing, moving our feet, getting to the ball quicker, and reading the hitters' shoulders. We made a lot of great efforts."
Armentrout noted the Generals' cohesion and offensive output.
"With the new rotation that we started today, the girls really pulled together and they were playing as six on the court and that's all we can ask for, diving all over the place," Armentrout said. "It was nice seeing us putting points on the board and making things happen this evening."