Sherando Warriors fall to Jefferson Cougars

STEPHENS CITY – Jefferson (West Virginia) High’s volleyball team has set winning a state championship in the Mountain State as its long-range goal this season, and Monday, at least, the Cougars (2-2)  showed that it was a possibility.

The visitors from the Eastern Panhandle throttled Sherando 3-1 for a non-district victory over the Warriors (6-2) for the first time in memory, either home or away.

“That’s the first time we’ve beaten Sherando since I’ve been here,” said fourth-year coach Ryan Mills.

Mills watched as her taller players like Mallory Jackson, Ailee Hoffman and Brittney Hozdic confounded the smaller Sherando line for a 19-25, 29-27, 25-10 and 25-23 victory.

The Warriors, who had won four matches in a row by shutout, notched a Virginia High School League 4A-21 win over Woodgrove Friday night, and perhaps overlooked the Cougars.

They should not have.

“I don’t think it’s us playing poorly. I think it was a matter of Jefferson playing well. They are good, they could beat a lot of teams in our area,” said Sherando coach James Minney.

Jefferson’s Jackson led all scorers with 18 kills spread out over four sets. She also had 11 digs and 1 block. Meanwhile, both Hoffman and Hozdic scored 11 kills apiece. Hoffman added three aces and three blocks.

Sherando was led by Kelsey Singhas with 12 kills, one ace and two blocks. Teammate Melissa Gaudette added 12 kills and a game-leading six blocks, but it was not enough.

“We have to get more points out of more places than just our outside hitters,” said Minney. “But give Jefferson credit. They played great defense.”

Jefferson led Sherando in overall kills 48-25 and aces 8-7, but fell behind in blocks (5-13).

After shutting out Woodgrove, Sherando was rolling on its way to the Monday interstate clash.

The Warriors did nothing to dispel that notion as they won 25-19 in set one.

Interestingly, after that, the Cougars led the second, third and fourth sets early and capitalized late to bring home the victory.

In fact, in game two, the visitors ran out to a 5-0 lead on a kill by Jackson.

The home crowd got behind Sherando, and, aided by that portion of the fan base, the Warriors went ahead 8-7; however, the Cougars snuck out a 5-0 run and led the match 13-8.

Trailing 17-13, Sherando got something going. It outscored Jefferson 7-1 on the strength of Alaina Paige and Gaudette’s play inside. Of the seven tallies, those two shared five kills. The score was 20-18 in favor of the home team.

The Warriors kept the pressure on the Cougars to stay ahead by two, but an unforced error and a Jackson kill tied the match at 23. It was the third tie of the set.

Jefferson had two set points; so did Sherando, including a 26-25, but Jackson delivered two spikes. After a Cougar unforced error, Hozdic provided a kill and Kassidy Hoffman an ace to win out.

The match was tied at 1-1.

The Cougars turned up their defense in the third set. Neither Singhas nor Gaudette scored a point.

Meanwhile, Jefferson erupted for an 11-8 advantage, then scored 12 straight points to go ahead 23-8. Jackson,  Ailee Hoffman, Maddy Chen and Leah Chen all took part in the run. Goals by Jackson and Hoffman bagged the set and the 2-1 lead.

The fourth and deciding set included three ties until Jefferson’s Hozdic’s kill and an ace by Cassidy Jones led to a 12-9 lead.

Subsequently, the set was tied up three more times. The last logjam occurred at 19-all, but Jefferson would never trail again. Sherando trailed 24-22 as kills by Cassie Chrisman and Jackson ended the match.

“This is the best team I’ve had,” said Mills. “Our senior leadership is something.

“I think, if anything, this match will give us confidence,” said Jackson. “Our final goal is to win a state championship, and we definitely think we can match up with the better teams.”