By Stephen Boyle - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- The Sherando Warriors picked the right day to put together their best volleyball match of the year. It wasn't just their last home district game of the regular season, it was also Senior Night.
Those seniors led the Warriors to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-22) straight-set victory over Skyline.
"This is probably the best we've played all season," said senior Jessica Henry, who led all players with 15 kills. "I just really felt like I had to be a leader tonight."
Henry admits that Senior Night was emotional for all four of the Warriors' fourth-year players, saying she "cried a little," but Sherando coach Chuck Ashby wasn't surprised that his seniors stepped up. He's asked them to make sacrifices and be leaders all season.
"There job tonight was leadership every serve, every point, every block," he said. "Very rarely do these seniors have a bad night. They're consistent leaders."
The rivalry in this game was a little more personal than the district standings. Sherando is now 10-7 and Skyline drops to 7-9, but for the teams' head coaches are teammates in a Clarke County adult volleyball league. Sherando's Ashby and Skyline's Lesley Detweiler have been teammates in the league longer than they've been coaching against each other, so every time they face off it's interesting.
"It doesn't matter what kind of team they have," Ashby said of Detweiler's Hawks over the years. "They're coming full blast."
In the first set, Skyline jumped out to a 7-4 lead and looked like it could take the first set on the road, but with the score tied at 12 junior Blair Adams served five straight points to make the score 17-12. Later in the first set, senior Ryan Magalis served four more points in a row to give the Warriors a commanding 23-15 lead. A block for a kill by sophomore Michelle Baker finished things off and the Warriors took the first set, 25-16.
"Tonight was definitely not one of our stronger nights," Detweiler said.
The Warriors dominated the second set. While the score differential was only three points greater, Skyline's only lead was 1-0 in the middle stanza. Senior Cassie Slater, who finished the match with 11 kills, picked up her only block of the night in the second set. Jessica Henry had a chance to finish things off after serving four straight points, including all three of her aces in the match, but with the score at 23-11 she served the ball so short it didn't even hit the net.
Since Sherando hung on to win the set 25-13, Henry got a good laugh out of the mistake after the match.
The third set looked to be more smooth sailing for Sherando, but with Skyline trailing 19-11 the Hawks got three points, including two aces from Allison Henry to begin a comeback. With the deficit cut nearly in half 20-15, Hawks senior Katara Edwards picked up three kills in five points to make it 21-19. Edwards led all Skyline players with 10 kills. The Hawks would get within one point a couple of times, but eventually lost the set 25-22. After the match, Detweiler said her team played well for the first 10 and last 10 points, but unable to maintain consistency.
"We definitely did not do that tonight," she said. "That hole is really what killed us."
As the volleyball regular season comes to a close, Sherando hopes the victory will be something to build on as the Warriors gear up for postseason play. Ashby thinks if his team continues to play at this level they could "break some hearts" come tournament time.