Generals fall to Bison

By Jim Laise – sports@nvdaily.com

QUICKSBURG — When your team is 2-13, you take what you can get.

And that’s exactly what Stonewall Jackson High School volleyball coach Lindsey Dinges and her Generals did Tuesday night, although they lost to Buffalo Gap 3-1 in a Shenandoah District match between the seventh- and eighth-place teams in the eight-team league.

“I’ll take it. I’m happy for them,” said Dinges of her team’s (0-11 Shenandoah) third-set victory over the visiting Bison (4-11 overall, 3-8). “It’s been rough, really rough. But when we communicate, we can do good things.

“The biggest problem for us is that we get down 0-2 in (sets) and then we seem to fall apart in the third set and our opponent runs over us.”

Not this night. Trailing 0-2 and having mustered just 14 points in those pair of sets, Stonewall battled back to make it 1-2, recovering from a 10-19 deficit for the 25-23 victory in Set 3.

Otherwise, Buffalo Gap won the remainder of the sets 25-10, 25-14 and 25-11.

“I don’t know what happened to us in the fourth set,” said Stonewall junior outside hitter Cheyenne Crigger. “We just ran out of gas.”

Perhaps the Generals lost their momentum. After fighting hard in the third set, their energy appeared lacking the rest of the way.

Stonewall Jackson, which has lost 11 matches in a row, made it worth the home crowd’s while on a special “Dig Pink” night when the home team wore the pastel color on their jerseys in honor of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

“What were we down, like nine points? I was proud of them for that,” said Dinges.

The first two sets ended in favor of the Bison in what seemed like a matter of minutes. It appeared that they were on the way to wrapping up the match until the Generals gained confidence and took their first set since Sept. 25, the last time they met Buffalo Gap. Stonewall has not won since downing Shenandoah County rival Central 3-1 on Sept. 15. It swept the Falcons this season.

The Bison were on a four-game losing skein themselves.

“I don’t know what happened exactly in that third set. Maybe we let down a little,” said Buffalo Gap’s Abbigale Flint. The sophomore, celebrating her 16th birthday, recorded 12 kills, nine aces and two blocks.

“I try to do a little bit of everything,” said Flint. “I’m not sure I have one strength. I just try to work on all parts of my game.”

Stonewall literally had trouble putting together back-to-back points in the first two sets, playing without middle hitter Brittany Singleton, who was ill at home.

The Generals opened the match with a 2-1 lead in the first set. That advantage was the last they would enjoy until the third set.

They put together consecutive points to trail 17-10 in Set 1. In the second game, they put together back-to-back winners to trail 6-4, then strung together three straight points in the same set to trail 10-8. They scored double-points again to linger behind 24-14 in the set.

But nothing to that point showed they would make something of a comeback in Set 3.

“I was so happy to take that third set,” Crigger said. “It finally felt like we were a team again.”

The junior outside hitter, an All-State performer in track and field, notched seven kills and two aces for the Generals. Teammate Madison Long, a sophomore, collected four kills, two aces and a block.

“Cheyenne and Madison ‚ those are two I can really count on. They keep playing hard. I’m happy to have them for another year or two,” Dinges said.

Dinges moved Long outside and filled the middle-hitter’s position — left open by Singleton — with sophomore Emily Ball.

“(Ball) didn’t even know she was going to start until I told her about 30 minutes before the match,” Dinges said. “I thought she played well.”

After being dusted in the first two sets by 26 points and down by nine in Set 3, Stonewall gave the home crowd something to shout about.

The Generals scored eight straight points to trail 19-18. Among those eight tallies, senior Kayla Miller scored three aces and Long had a kill.

Even though Dinges had called a timeout, it appeared Buffalo Gap had regrouped to lead 23-20, but then came five consecutive points by Stonewall. In the rally, Crigger had two kills and Ball added one.

But Buffalo Gap put its stamp on the match quickly, winning the first four points of Set 4 and then easily pulling away.

Gap’s Sierra Clifton put up 14 kills, an ace and three blocks and Emily Hanger tallied eight kills, two aces and a block.