Generals rebound from slow start to topple rival Falcons

QUICKSBURG – Sometimes a team can be so zeroed in on what it’s trying to accomplish that it can actually become a hindrance. That’s what Stonewall Jackson junior Emily Ball said happened to the Generals early in their home volleyball match with county rival Central on Thursday night.

The visiting Falcons ran away with a 10-point victory in the match’s opening set only to see Stonewall rally for three straight victories to pick up a 3-1 (15-25, 25-13, 25-16, 25-14) win, the first of the season for the Generals.

“I think we just were focused on winning so badly that we forgot how to play good volleyball,” Ball said of the first set. “But once we buckled down and really had fun that’s when we played better.”

Generals head coach Lindsey Dinges lauded her team’s play on Thursday, which included a balanced offensive attack and a solid performance from the service line, but it was Ball who drew the most praise following a match that saw the junior serve up six aces, smash six kills and fuel a couple key runs for her Stonewall teammates.

“Emily Ball had an outstanding game,” Dinges said. “She served well. Every time we got in a hole, when she got the serve she got us out of (the hole). The biggest deficits we had in the game, Emily Ball brought us back. She was all over the court.”

The first set was one to forget for the Generals (1-2), as Central used a combined seven aces, five kills and four blocks to roll to a 25-15 victory. Five aces from Stonewall – including two by Ball – actually staked the Generals a 12-10 lead midway through the game before the Falcons (0-3) closed the set with a 15-3 run.

Central seniors Dana Painter and Deserae Grear powered the decisive run with service streaks of five and six points, respectively, before a kill by senior setter Nicole Baker sealed the victory.

But Stonewall answered right back with a 25-13 victory in the second set to even the match at 1-1.

“They made adjustments after the first game,” Dinges said. “They knew what they had done wrong and you could tell that in the second game. They came out strong. … Once they got going they picked it up, and they finished.”

Stonewall rallied from a quick 3-1 deficit in the second game and gained a 5-4 lead on an ace from Ball. The two teams traded points until Generals senior setter Elizabeth Moomaw served three aces as part of a five-point run that gave Stonewall a 14-8 lead, and the Generals cruised through the rest of the set.

Strong serving would prove to be a key asset for the Generals, as they finished with 22 aces compared to 11 missed serves.

“We work on it a lot in practice and that’s something that our coach stresses, that we don’t miss serves,” Ball said. “I mean, that’s giving them free points, so we work on that a lot. We missed more in the first set (four) than we have, like, ever, so we wanted to definitely rebound from that.”

Central looked as though it was taking the momentum right back in the third game, as the Falcons raced out to an 11-4 lead behind three aces by Baker (team-high six aces) and a pair of kills by junior Kylie Stottlemyer. Another service run by Ball brought the Generals back within two points, and Stonewall closed the set on a 21-5 run behind three kills apiece by Ball and fellow junior Madison Long.

The Falcons struggled to generate much of an offensive attack after the first game and committed 22 total attack errors, 21 of which came over the final three sets. Savannah Gochenour and Tamra Scott each finished with four kills to lead Central, while Kila Watson had three kills and four blocks and Baker finished with 15 assists.

“Tonight we only had one setter and we ran her to death,” Falcons coach Christy Barb said, “and that hurt us because when we tried to get her to set then our hitters, unfortunately, would hit it in the net or hit it long. We did not adjust well.”

Stonewall Jackson again fell behind early in the fourth set before four aces by Long and three more by Ball gave the Generals a comfortable 12-5 lead. The Generals served up 10 aces in the final set, including two straight by junior Reganne Brinkley to seal the victory.

Long finished with four kills and six aces for Stonewall, while libero Jessica Pechie had 22 digs and Moomaw 13 assists.

“I’m just happy for them,” Dinges said. “It’s good for them to get a win. I just hope it’s something that we can continue to do this year.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com