By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Tuesday's volleyball match between host Skyline and Warren County played out just like any good rivalry game should.
The match was full of momentum swings, tough play from both sides and even some taunting from both schools' student sections.
In the end, it was the Warren County students that erupted in the final cheer as the Wildcats escaped with a 3-2 (16-25, 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 15-10) victory over their cross-town rivals.
"I think we really got into it, we wanted it so bad," said Wildcat sophomore Autumn Troxell. "It's just something that you want to win. It's a rivalry game, you only get so many of them while you're in high school so you just want to put your all into it. I think we did."
Skyline (6-3) appeared to take all of the momentum with a convincing win in the opening set. After Warren County (6-1) took a 3-0 lead thanks to an ace by Rachel Cerretani and two kills by Jade Rowe, the Hawks clawed back and took a 10-7 lead after a pair of aces by Brianna Lewis.
The Hawks didn't allow the Wildcats to pull any closer than two points for the remainder of the set while running away with the 25-16 win to take an early 1-0 lead.
"We came out strong in the first set, we were putting things away and we were moving well," Hawks coach Lesley Detweiler said. "We kind of slowed down [after that], the pace of the game slowed down, and we don't play as well when we do that."
Warren County rebounded in the second and third sets as the Wildcats' balanced offensive attack seized control of the game. Warren County ran out to a 15-4 lead in the second frame before some Wildcat errors allowed Skyline back in it. Warren County was able to hold on for a 25-17 victory.
Skyline didn't help itself in the middle sets, as the Hawks combined for 20 errors in the second and third games after committing just five in the opening frame.
Twelve Hawk errors, combined with nine team kills from the Wildcats, helped Warren County seize a 2-1 advantage with a win in the third game.
Warren County used a total team effort on the floor as Troxell (13 kills, four blocks), Rowe (11 kills), Brooke Post (nine kills) and Cerretani (eight kills, 22 assists) all had outstanding games for the Wildcats.
Cerretani credited the Wildcats' chemistry on the court for Warren County's success.
"We've all been together for a number of years now, ever since middle school," Cerretani said. "We all wanted to win the Skyline game because it's our rivalry, and because we're seniors and we just want to win."
Skyline refused to go quietly, forcing a fifth set with an inspired fourth-set victory. The Hawks took a 15-10 lead before Post caught fire for Warren County and tallied three kills to help pull the Wildcats even at 16-16.
Carrie Robinson scored a kill to regain the lead for Skyline, and the Hawks used a 4-0 run to extend the lead to 20-16. An ace by junior Courtney Kidd gave Skyline the 25-19 win and forced the deciding fifth set.
Sarah Beamer (team-high six kills) tallied two of her six kills in the set, and Robinson (five kills) added three in the frame.
"It's always a tough game [against Warren County]. The emotions run high, it's more important than any other game on the schedule," Detweiler said. "We played hard and we never gave up."
Skyline's run was short-lived, however, as the Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the final set after a pair of kills by Rowe and a kill apiece by Cerretani and Post. Warren County led 10-3 in the frame before Skyline fought back to pull within three points, but an ace by Troxell sent Warren County home as the victors.
"It was a good game. Both teams, I thought, played hard and aggressive," said Wildcats coach Sarah Putnam. "Fortunately for us, we came out with the win."