Judges dominate in sweep of Hawks

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

FRONT ROYAL — After losing six players to graduation, Handley looked be in a rebuilding year but the Judges showed Tuesday night their program is as solid as it has been.

The Judges dominated from start to finish to pull out a 3-0 (25-15, 25-4, 25-14) win over Skyline in Northwestern District volleyball action.

“A lot of people were talking how it was going to be a youthful year for us, but I kind of knew what I had on the JV program,” Handley coach Lindsay Cole said. “So it’s kind of just reloading again.”

The Judges scored the first three points in the first set, but a kill and an ace by Taylor Ziemer helped the Hawks grab a 4-3 edge.

Handley then reeled off six consecutive points, including an ace by Elizabeth Homan and a kill by Alexis Zygmunt.

The Hawks would get no closer than five points the rest of the set. Zygmunt led the way for the Judges in the set with four kills and a block, but they also had kills from Jada Wilson, Maggie Wise and Homan.

“Pretty much we were able to attack just from everywhere,” Cole said. “A lot of people key on Alexis Zygmunt when they’re playing us, but we’re just showing that we have other options and kind of getting that ready for further down the road.”

The second set didn’t take long for the Judges. They raced out to a 12-1 lead and didn’t look back. They made only two errors in the set, one of which came on a service error. Two of Skyline’s four points came on kills by Celina Pearman.

“I think it’s just been this way all season,” Skyline coach Erika Berry said. “We come out strong in that first game and we don’t get that win. We still don’t have that concept down that we have five [sets] to play. We have a lot of talent. We’re just not putting it together — cohesive play on the court.”

The Judges (6-1) started off strong again in the third set, building a 13-3 lead, aided by two kills and two blocks by Zygmunt.

Trailing 22-8, the Hawks made a rally. Skyline used a 6-1 run to cut the lead to 23-14, including an ace by Sam Santmyers and a kill by Rebecca Thomas.

“We had a lot of players out there who hadn’t been out on the court yet this year and they were able to bring some momentum,” Berry said.

Two points later, a kill by Sarah Snow finished off the win for Handley.

The Judges were led by Zygmunt with 10 kills and three blocks, and Homan with three kills.

Handley hosts Sherando on Thursday in a Northwestern District matchup.

“It’s always exciting to go in and play one of our rival schools, which is Sherando,” Cole said. “But on our side we’re just going to try to be consistent, go with what we have offensively and defensively and hopefully come away with a team win.”

The Hawks (0-8) have struggled all season and have won just two sets. Berry said the biggest thing her team needs is to get some confidence.

“Right now, we’re trying to build confidence. I think that’s our weakest link right now,” Berry said. “We have a lot of building to do, and it’s just bringing that confidence up and letting them know that we can be competitive in this sport.

“We do have potential. The talent is there. We’re just working hard to find a groove.”