STEPHENS CITY - In front of a crowd that can only be described as electric, James Wood needed a decisive fifth set win to take down Sherando on Thursday night.
It seemed fitting that the Colonels' Lindsey Painter delivered the ultimate blow to the Warriors with a spike to give James Wood a 15-12 victory in the fifth set as she put the team on her back after a first-set loss.
Painter, the 6 foot, 2 inch junior, delivered spike after spike, kill after kill, and block after block for the Colonels in each of their set victories, but she had to work much harder than she did in the teams' previous matchup a few weeks ago that saw Painter and the Colonels sweep the Warriors in three sets.
"Our goal with Lindsay, the last couple games she had 20 kills or so, and we just aimed to knock that in half," Sherando coach Chuck Ashby said. "I felt like Michelle [Baker] was blocking her well, and I thought we frustrated her throughout the game at times, but when she got frustrated she came out and did what she had to do."
It was quite a match the entire way as Sherando took the first set with a ton of energy and a great performance from sophomore Kelsey Singhas for a thrilling 26-24 win. Singhas had four kills in the set, and included an ace as well.
"She has been tremendous for me, she's a sophomore, she's played this game, club and middle school, but I tell you, she has really been one who, especially in practice, she'll come in and she's working on everything," Ashby said of Singhas. "Anywhere you need her to go, she'll go."
Despite the back-and-forth first set, James Wood was able to run off a 13-point streak in their 25-12 second-set victory and runs of five, six, and five in their 25-14 third-set win. It was Sherando's inability to stop the long point streaks that ultimately hurt them in each set they lost as the Colonels even put together a six-point stretch in the decisive fifth set after trailing 7-2.
Stopping long streaks is something Ashby knows his team has to work on.
"That's been something we have been working on as a team and that's something we have to continue to work on, but you have to give credit to James Wood, that's what their capable of doing," Ashby said.
Sherando did not back down after consecutive double-digit set losses, and forced the decisive fifth set with a thrilling 25-23 fourth-set victory. The Warriors showed their grittiness as James Wood had a 22-18 lead before a Michelle Baker kill brought the serve back to her team. Sherando then reeled off five more points to gain a 24-22 advantage, before ultimately taking the set.
It was one of those games where neither team really deserved to lose, as it was a hard fought, back and forth type of match that saw both teams battle to the end.
"We got the first one, and that's what we talked about in practice was getting that first one to shake them [James Wood] up a bit, and they responded in the second set. But when we came back there at the end and pushed it to five, their faces were red, hot, sweaty, and our girls, they just played tremendous," Ashby said.