Warriors fall short against Spotswood

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando’s young volleyball team may be going through some early-season growing pains, but the Warriors had plenty to feel positive about on Tuesday night.

The Warriors showed fight and hung tough with a strong Spotswood team in a 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22) non-district home loss. Sherando lost in five sets to Spotswood earlier this season on the road.

“I thought we played well tonight,” Sherando coach James Minney said. “We played better tonight than we did [at Spotswood]. They played well tonight, too. They’re solid. They made very few mistakes.”

The matchup was a battle of two very young squads. Spotswood has only three seniors, and has seven sophomores. Sherando was playing without senior Michelle Baker, who is out of town for the week.

The Warriors had four sophomores on the roster for Tuesday’s game, and only three players with varsity experience before this season.

Spotswood took the opening set, led by four kills each from sophomores Addisen DeLucas and Natalie Van Huss.

“One of our emphasis’ this whole week was coming out strong from the very beginning,” Spotswood coach Jim Roth said. “A couple matches this year we’ve come out and lost the first one bad when we shouldn’t have, and we come back and [win] after that. So I was real happy to see our Game 1 tonight. I thought it was real strong. I think that carried over.”

Sherando’s young squad responded in the second set. The set went back and forth throughout. A kill by Mackenzie Cornwell tied the set at 21-all. The teams traded errors, and a kill by Spotswood’s Madeline High tied the set one last time at 23-23. A block by Kelsey Singhas and a Spotswood error gave Sherando the set.

Sherando held a slight edge 13-11 in the third set, but the Trailblazers answered with a 7-0 run, led by two kills from sophomore Savannah Turner and one by High. A kill by Singhas and one by Cornwell helped the Warriors battle back to tie the set at 19-19.

The Trailbazers rallied again with four straight points, including an ace by Turner and a kill from High. After a block by Sherando sophomore Melissa Gaudette, Spotswood finished the set off with back-to-back kills by High and DeLucas.

Gaudette was playing in only her second match, after being brought up from the JV team last week.

“Melissa, I can’t speak highly enough about her,” Minney said. “She did well. It’s the first time she’s played in that type of role.”

In the fourth set, the two teams went back and forth again. Sherando took a 20-18 lead on a block by Anna Haycocks and a kill by Gaudette. DeLucas, Van Huss and Turner each had a kill to help the Trailblazers take a 22-21 lead. Sherando tied the set at 22-all, but Spotswood won the last three points, including a match-ending ace by McKenzie Jenkins.

The Warriors had some miscommunication at times, and Minney said that’s just part of the learning process for his young squad.

“They’re not used to playing with each other,” Minney said. “It’s just hard to gel this quick in the season.”

The Trailblazers (4-0) had a very balanced attack. DeLucas had eight kills, while Van Huss and High had seven and Turner had six.

“I got a real strong, young group, lots of sophomores,” Roth said. “They’ve played a lot together. They just love the game.”

Singhas led the Warriors with nine kills and two blocks. Gaudette had three kills and four blocks, and Cornwell had five kills and one block.

The Warriors (0-3) are still searching for their first win, but Minney said he is looking for his team to peak at the end of the season.

“I’m happy with how we’re doing. I think we’re going to be a team that will finish fairly strong at the end,” Minney said. “We’re certainly young, but I think we might be one of the spoilers [in the postseason]. …That’s what our goal is this year. You know you always go in and say, ‘Hey, if we can just put someone out.’ And that’s what we look for and that’s what were trying to work for.”

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