Generals swept by Riverheads

By Jim Laise – sports@nvdaily.com

QUICKSBURG — Riverheads entered Tuesday’s volleyball match with Stonewall Jackson having lost only two sets all season.

The Generals were unable to change that as they lost 3-0 (25-7, 25-13, 25-3) in Shenandoah District action

Riverheads (9-0, 5-0) was tied with Stuarts Draft (8-0, 4-0 heading into Tuesday) for the league lead.

“We have to do a better job of service-returns. That’s what we’ve been working on all year — our service-returns. They just weren’t there tonight,” Stonewall coach Lindsey Dinges said. “But there’s a reason they’re undefeated. They’re awfully good.”

A major reason was because of left-handed server Kelly Coffey, of Riverheads. The junior offered up eight aces and held service through key stretches for the Gladiators.

“I just do what I’ve been taught in [Junior Olympics] and through my coaches at Riverheads,” said Coffey after the three-set dash was over. “I can’t really explain what I do, but the ball seems to dip a lot.”

That is precisely what the junior’s serves did at the Stonewall Jackson gymnasium.

She was particularly demonstrative in the second and third sets.

Coming off the 18-point loss in the first set, the Generals showed signs of life in the second set. In fact, they led 7-4 after falling behind quickly in the first set.

“What were we 7-4? And then it was 10-10, so I can’t question our effort,” said Dinges. “We just couldn’t get the serves back.”

“I was talking to someone the other day about Kelly’s serves,” Riverheads coach Ruth Thompson said. “It’s not really a power serve, but it’s not soft either. She does a lot of stuff with the ball.”

After a 4-4 tie in the second set, Stonewall reeled off three straight points on a Riverheads service fault, an ace by Stonewall’s Madison Long and an unforced error on the part of the Gladiators.

“I made a tiny change in the lineup and it may have cost us,” said Thompson with a smile. “We changed back and I think that took care of it.”

So did Coffey’s serving. The Gladiators tied the set on a McKenzie Taylor kill and two unforced errors by the Generals. It remained knotted at 8-8 and 10-all.

A kill by Mariah Clark and an unforced error put Riverheads on top, 12-10. A Gladiator serve went into the net to close the gap, but the Gladiators scored three straight points for a 15-11 lead. Another error brought the Generals within three. Then came Coffey.

On the lefty’s service, the Gladiators scored six straight points to take a commanding 21-12 edge. Clark started the streak off with two kills and then Coffey’s four aces put the Generals at bay.

Clark finished with a match-high 13 kills and one block. She was followed by teammate Nyssa Stapleton, who registered nine blocks and two kills. Gladiator Jennifer Callison registered six kills and two blocks.

“We get right up to a point where we lose a point and then we lose our confidence. But I’m not down on my team whatsoever,” Dinges said. “We have a half a season to go. We’ll get better.”

“Even when we won the first set easily, we just powered through [in the second set]. We have a lot to play for,” Coffey said.

Riverheads jumped to a 13-2 lead in the match-deciding third set, then came Coffey. At 13-3, she served on her team’s last 12 points to clinch the victory.

“She had our most aces tonight,” Thompson said. “Her ball just skims over the net. That and the fact that she’s tall helped her serve out tonight.”