By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- No lead was safe as county rivals Central and Stonewall Jackson squared off in a nondistrict volleyball contest on Monday evening. In the end, however, it was Central that came away with the much-needed victory on the road.
Central received contributions from a variety of players in the 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-17, 25-18) win over the Generals, as five different Falcons recorded at least five kills in the match. The Falcons also had four players tally five aces from the service line.
"I think all of them played exceptionally well," Falcons coach Christy Barb said. "It was an all-around team win. It wasn't one individual that made it happen. It was all 12 of those girls."
Both teams entered Monday night's match looking to gain some momentum after less than stellar starts to the 2013 season, and the determination on the court from Central (3-7) and Stonewall (0-6) was evident from the start.
The Falcons quickly built a commanding 13-2 lead in the first set behind three kills by senior Kyla Strother and two kills apiece from junior Caelyn Moylan and senior Tiffany Riggs, and Central's lead grew to 22-8 after three straight aces by senior Mary Wakeman later in the game.
But Stonewall, which has struggled to overcome youth and inconsistency this season, began to show some life. Generals freshman Madison Long came up with a block to end Wakeman's five-point service run, and Long delivered three straight aces of her own to cut Stonewall's deficit to single digits.
Central got a kill by Moylan to extend the lead back to 10 points, but Generals senior Allison Singleton scored a kill and then delivered a five-point service run to pull Stonewall within four points at 23-19. The Falcons were able to close out the set, however, thanks to a Generals' pass error and an ace by Central senior Jamison Cook.
"There were definitely some situations that we've been struggling with before and we overcame those situations and we battled back," Generals coach Jamie Armentrout said. "We kept ourselves from getting down and battled each game. We put in another new rotation tonight, and I think it worked a lot better. We just still really need to focus on our passing, and I think as soon as we can get over that milestone we'll be successful."
Central again jumped out to a big lead in the second set, going up 14-7 on a kill by Riggs and a Stonewall attack error. But the Generals were once again able to battle back, as Singleton delivered a kill and then a service run of nine straight points -- including four aces -- to give Stonewall a 21-17 lead.
Stonewall held off a comeback bid by the Falcons and won the set on a kill by Singleton. The set victory was just the Generals' second such win in six games this year.
"In the second game, we came out fired up and we started to pick up the momentum at the end of the second game," said Singleton, who led Stonewall with 11 kills and seven aces. "We got comfortable and we settled in and we decided that we actually wanted to go out there and play."
The Generals carried that momentum into the beginning of the third set as Stonewall took an early 9-3 lead, but Central erased that deficit in a hurry with a seven-point service run by Strother that included four aces and gave the Falcons an 11-9 lead.
As a team, Central served up 24 aces while committing just eight service errors in the match. Strother, Wakeman, Cook and senior Jensen Gochenour each had five aces for the Falcons.
"Our serves were wonderful this evening," Barb said. "We did exceptionally well and I'm proud of all the servers. Jensen did very well for me ... being able to come in and serve."
Stonewall pulled within one point of Central on several occasions in the third set, but the Falcons eventually pulled away and won the set on a block and a kill by Riggs.
Central maintained a comfortable five-point cushion for most of the fourth set to finish off the Generals.
Riggs led the Falcons with 11 kills and five blocks, and Strother added nine kills. Moylan (eight kills), Rebecca Truban (six kills) and Katelyn Foltz (five kills) also contributed heavily to Central's attack.
Senior Desirae Blank tallied six kills for Stonewall, and Long led the Generals with five aces.
Stonewall will look to rebound as it travels to East Rockingham today, while the Falcons will look to keep up the momentum with a trip to Rappahannock County this evening.
"I thought we did really good. We got down some times but we just came together as a team and started encouraging each other more, and that really showed on the court," Riggs said. "We have a game tomorrow, so hopefully that momentum will carry on to the next one."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org