By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County scratched and clawed in an attempt to keep pace with visiting William Monroe in an important Bull Run District and Conference 28 volleyball match on Tuesday night, but the Wildcats simply couldn't overcome their own mistakes.
The Dragons, who came into the match in second place in the Bull Run, were able to beat Warren County 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16) for the second time this season. The Wildcats didn't help their own cause, committing 43 unforced errors in the match.
"I thought the girls played hard, they played smart and they played like a team tonight," Wildcats coach Sarah Putnam said. "There were moments when momentum shifted and it just got away from us.
"I think there were times when we struggled and the other team was able to capitalize on that. Tonight it just took us a few extra points to get back in our game and unfortunately that's what cost us."
The Wildcats (5-7, 5-5 Bull Run) uncharacteristically struggled with their serves, especially as the match wore on. Warren County as a team delivered 19 aces, but it also committed 15 service errors in the four sets.
"Like I've said before, you have to serve in to win, but for some reason we just struggled with that tonight," Putnam said.
The service game started out strong enough for the Wildcats, who used three aces and four kills to build an 8-3 lead early in the opening set before five Warren County attack errors in a seven-point span gave William Monroe a 13-11 advantage.
The Dragons held off Warren County until the Wildcats tied the set at 18-all on a block by junior Autumn Troxell, and the two teams knotted the score three more times late in the set.
William Monroe (8-2, 8-1) finally took the lead for good on a kill by junior Olivia Shifflett that gave the Dragons a 23-22 edge, and Shifflett stroked her fourth kill of the set, two points later, to give the Dragons a 25-23 victory.
Warren County would answer in the second set, however, as six kills by Troxell (match-high 16 kills and six blocks) and five aces by sophomore Kylie Eyler helped give the Wildcats their only victory of the evening.
The Wildcats gained a 21-20 lead on a kill by junior Alyssa Pauley, and three straight aces by Eyler put Warren County at game point. Brooke Post tied the match at 1-1 with a kill that gave the Wildcats the set win.
"The girls came out and they wanted it," Putnam said. "I think that desire and motivation is what kept them in these sets."
The Dragons built a seven-point lead to open the third set, but the Wildcats were able to crawl back and pull within one point multiple times later in the game. An ace by Eyler cut William Monroe's lead to 23-22, but two straight errors by Warren County gave the Dragons a 2-1 edge.
Warren County tried to force a fifth set by rallying in the fourth game, but the Wildcats' fifth service error of the set broke a 16-all tie and started a 9-0 run for William Monroe that ended the match.
"In the Bull Run District, we have four or five teams that on any given night you can lose to. The girls did a good job of churning it out tonight," Dragons coach Ken Lawson said. "It was good competition up here."
Pauley and junior Arie Roth recorded six kills apiece for Warren County, while Post contributed five kills and five aces for the Wildcats. Eyler also chipped in eight aces.
Olivia Shifflett led William Monroe with 12 kills to go along with four aces, and junior Kelsey Shifflett added 11 kills and a block.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org