R-MA relies on service game

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

FRONT ROYAL — Randolph-Macon Academy showed on Wednesday afternoon that you don’t have to dominate at the net to trounce an opponent.

The Yellow Jackets used some strong serving to cruise to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-6, 25-20) win over Wakefield School in non-conference volleyball action. It was the first win of the season for the Yellow Jackets.

“We serve a lot in practice,” R-MA hitter Julia Norton said. “That’s one of our main things, because you can’t play a game without a serve.”

R-MA’s serving prowess was on full display as the Yellow Jackets dished out 19 service aces in the match, including eight in the second set.

Things started off slow for the Yellow Jackets, as the Fighting Owls took a 6-3 lead in the first set.

R-MA (1-2) responded with an 11-2 run, including two kills from Norton, and a kill, a block and two service aces from Breanna Collins.

The Fighting Owls eventually pulled to within 15-11, but two service aces from Ashley Grossman and a kill by Alex Mabry helped push R-MA’s lead to 19-11.

Wakefield School would get no closer than five points the rest of the game. Norton said a big key for the Yellow Jackets was playing as a team.

“This game we really worked well as a team,” Norton said. “I think it’s going to be a good season now that we realize how it is to work as a team and together.”

The Yellow Jackets’ solid play continued in the second set. They scored the first five points and eased to a 2-0 lead. Four different players combined for eight aces in the set, and the Yellow Jackets made only three errors total in the set.

Wakefield took a 4-3 lead in the third set, but R-MA responded with a 6-2 run and led the rest of the way.

The Fighting Owls made a late rally to cut the lead to 24-20, but a Wakefield error sealed the match and gave the Yellow Jackets reason to celebrate.

R-MA was swept by Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy on Tuesday, and Norton said that the Yellow Jackets grabbed some momentum late in that match and it carried over against Wakefield.

“We played really well in those last two or three minutes [against SVCA], and I think in those last three minutes we realized, ‘OK, we got this guys for the rest of the season,'” Norton said.

The Yellow Jackets return six players from last year’s squad, but have only one senior on the team. They also have six freshmen on the squad this year.

R-MA coach Doug French said he was very happy with how the team played against the Fighting Owls.

“This is the first time they actually came together and played like this,” French said. “It’s a learning process. They’re beginning to learn the game, and hopefully we have many more wins to come.

“They talked more today. They called the ball better. They communicated better.”

Ashley Alexander led the Fighting Owls with four kills.

Norton had four kills and two service aces, and Collins had three kills, two blocks and four service aces to lead the Yellow Jackets. Grossman added eight assists and three service aces for R-MA.

The Yellow Jackets will begin Delaney Athletic Conference play next week, and French said he thinks the team can do well.

“I think we were 4-5 last year, so hopefully we’ll do better,” French said. “We don’t have the hitters we had last year, but we have a better team this year. I think we’ll be competitive.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd