Wildcats regroup for victory over Manassas Park

By Jim Laise – sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL — On their way to what they thought was a three-set whitewash of Bull Run District opponent Manassas Park on Thursday, Warren County watched as the visiting Cougars had something to say about that.

Fortunately, for the Wildcats (11-6 overall, 9-5 league), senior middle hitter Autumn Troxell did something about it.

As she had through most of the 3-1 victory for Warren County, Troxell came up with key points when they mattered to turn back the fourth set in the Wildcats’ direction.

“We may have relaxed a bit,” said Wildcats coach Sarah Putnam after Warren’s 25-18, 25-16, 23-25 and 25-17 victory over the Cougars.

The Wildcats had already earlier dispatched Manassas Park on the road, 3-0, and may have figured they were in for more of the same after they opened a total 50-34 advantage in winning points in the first two sets.

Of those 50 points in the first two sets, Troxell, who finished the night with 21 kills, three aces and two blocks, contributed 13 points.

But in the third set, Manassas Park scored the last two points to break a 23-23 tie and earn its first set victory of the night.

“You have to give them credit,” Putnam said. “They came out and fought tonight. They’re much improved from the first time we played them.”

Senior Daniella Rivera was instrumental in the Cougars’ only victorious set over the Wildcats this season.

Even though Troxell was posting five kills in the third set, Rivera put up three kills and two aces during the Cougars’ two-point victory.

Ahead 2-1 in sets, the Troxell and her squad made sure to end the night in the decisive fourth set.

Like they had in sets one through three, Warren fell behind the Cougars (1-16, 0-13) inthe fourth set. They found themselves down 12-11 and 13-12. With the set tied at 14, Troxell recorded a kill and a point off a block to give the Wildcats a 16-14 advantage.

Warren County was ahead 17-15, when Manassas Park tied the set for the last time at 17-all. From there, the Wildcats scored the final eight tallies to win going away.

“We let up a little bit (in set three) and they took advantage of it, so congratulations to them,” Troxell said.

Otherwise, she and her mates took care of the Cougars.

Behind 10-8 in in the first set, Warren County outscored Manassas Park 7-1 to take a 15-11 advantage. Troxell was good for three of the points, while senior Arienne Roth scored off a block and an ace. The Wildcats extended the lead to 23-16 before the Cougars fought back for a couple of points.

In the second set, Warren trailed 3-1 before a Roth kill, an unforced error by Manassas Park and an ace by senior Alyssa Pauley put the Wildcats ahead 4-3. The Wildcats led when Troxell wrapped two kills and an ace around a Cougar point gave Warren County an 11-7 advantage.

Manassas Park scored on a Warren County fault, but the Wildcats came back with five straight scores to go ahead comfortably, 16-8.

In the third set, the Wildcats were cruising at 15-8 when Manassas Park notched five straight scores to trail 15-13.

Again the Wildcats found themselves on top 19-15, but the Cougars outscored them 4-0 to tie the set at 19. Manassas Park tied it three more times before it won the two-point decision.

The victory was important for the Wildcats. They are in third place in the Bull Run, a spot that will earn them a home court advantage in the post-season tournament if they are to hold onto it.

“That should serve as motivation,” Troxell said.