By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK -- Central played visiting William Monroe tough on Thursday night, but the Falcons couldn't quite break through against the Dragons.
William Monroe picked up the 3-0 (27-25, 25-17, 27-25) win, but needed extra points in the first and third sets to do so. Central actually held game point in the opening set before the Dragons erased a four-point deficit to snatch the victory.
"We've had our ups and downs all season, but every night we go out on the court we're focusing on giving 100-percent effort," said Falcons coach Allison Hoover. "We're working hard, we're trying hard. Some nights we get it, some nights we fall short."
Both teams dueled to an 18-all tie in the first set while neither team could get much going offensively. A William Monroe error broke the tie to give the Falcons a 19-18 lead, and a kill by Central junior Tiffany Riggs, her fourth of the set, extended the lead to two points.
A Dragons attack error several exchanges later gave Central (3-13, 3-7 Bull Run) game point with the score 24-20, but the offense that William Monroe had been missing for nearly the entire set finally arrived.
Dragons junior Rachel Faris scored three kills, and sophomore Olivia Shifflett added another, as William Monroe knotted the score at 24-all. Another kill by Shifflett after a Central timeout gave the Dragons a 25-24 lead, but Riggs recorded her third block of the set to pull the Falcons even.
Shifflett then scored another kill, and a Falcons attack error gave the Dragons the 27-25 comeback win.
"That was a surprising comeback. It's tough, to come back like that, especially when you're down by four points," said Dragons coach Ken Lawson. "That was probably the turning point of the match."
Central struggled early in the second set, committing six attack errors while falling into an early 14-6 deficit. The Falcons never got any closer than seven points over the second half of the game, losing the set 25-17.
Central committed 13 errors, including eight attack errors, in the set.
"There's something about that second game, not specifically tonight, but every night. It's the second game that we just have a tough time with," Hoover said. "I'm not quite sure why that is. I kind of wish it was the beginning so we could get over it and keep going, and keep the momentum going. Tonight the momentum stalled and we weren't able to come back."
William Monroe struggled to put the Falcons away in the final set. The Dragons committed 18 errors in the third game alone, and Central nearly pulled out a win to prevent the sweep.
"I think we did really good. We played hard and gave it all we got," said Riggs, who led the Falcons with eight kills and four blocks. "There were some times where we could have talked more, but we got ourselves together. We were just focusing on having fun."
A Riggs kill pulled the Falcons within a point late in the set before two kills by Faris and a Central error made the score 24-21 in favor of William Monroe. Three straight Dragons errors tied the set at 24, but a kill by Shifflett and a Falcons error ended the match.
"We don't measure our success for this season by our wins and our losses. It's how much effort we are putting on the court and how well we are playing each night," said Hoover. "We'll figure out what we need to do to be better, and get those little kinks out and build on that."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org