By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Sherando may have picked up a 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 26-24) sweep over Northwestern District foe Skyline on Monday, but the visiting Warriors had to fight for every bit of it.
The Warriors' used a high-powered offense to jump out to a decisive victory in the first set of the night, but Skyline's defense settled in during the last two games. Sherando needed extra points in each of the final two sets to get the win.
"I think the first game we kind of snuck up on them, and then after that they just started playing defense," said Warriors coach Chuck Ashby. "I tried to explain to the girls that we had to mix it up a little bit because they were playing great defense.
"We showed the heart that we've kind of had all season. For the most part, I though it was a good win."
Sherando (8-3, 2-1 Northwestern) pounded the Hawks (6-5. 0-3) in the opening set as the Warriors smashed 15 kills as a team. Senior Jessica Henry led Sherando's outburst with seven kills and a pair of blocks, and senior Ryan Magalis added four kills for the Warriors.
The two teams battled closely early before Sherando used a 7-0 run to jump out to a 15-7 lead. The Warriors cruised to a 25-13 victory, which ended when Henry smashed her seventh kill on a feed from junior Blair Adams.
Adams finished the set with eight assists, five of which went to Henry.
"Me and Blair really connected tonight. She had some really good sets," said Henry, who led all players with 17 kills. "Our offense was really good tonight. I thought our defense wasn't too bad either. I thought we really progressed on our defense a little bit."
The Hawks refused to let the first set break their determination, and Skyline took an early 9-5 lead to open the second game. Senior Sarah Beamer (team-high six kills) tallied two kills in the span, and junior Jenny Norman added another for the Hawks.
Sherando fought back to take a 12-11 lead, and the two teams battled closely over the final half of the set.
Skyline gained a late 24-22 lead thanks to a pair of aces by sophomore Michala Craig and Norman's second kill of the set, but the Hawks couldn't put the Warriors away.
Craig's next serve went into the net, and an ace by Sherando's Whitney Dellinger tied the game at 24-all. Skyline committed an attack error to give Sherando game point, and Henry smashed a kill on an assist from Adams to give the Warriors the 26-24 win.
The Warriors committed 15 errors in the second game, nine of which were attack errors. Much of that was due to defensive adjustments made by Skyline.
"I think our first game we were all kind of off, so our motivation was to just to fight back and win," Beamer said. "We just covered more, they kept tipping on us so we were covering on the tips. We just tried to pick up everything we could."
Skyline continued its scrappy play in the third set as the Hawks erased a six-point deficit to take the final set down to the wire.
Sherando sophomore Michelle Baker -- a recent call-up from the Warriors' JV squad -- scored a pair of blocks and a kill in three exchanges to help Sherando to a 16-10 lead. Skyline found itself trailing 20-16 late, but erased the deficit to tie the game at 24-all on an ace by Beamer.
But the Warriors once again pulled through, as a Hawk attack error and a kill by Cassie Slater sealed the sweep for the Warriors.
Skyline has had a tough road in the Northwestern District in recent seasons, but Monday's performance could provide the Hawks with some confidence moving forward.
"I tell the girls all the time that we don't want to play the easy teams that you can just crush, because that's not going to make you better," said Hawks coach Lesley Detweiler. "We get a second chance to see everyone again, so hopefully we'll be able to play a little tougher and win some games."