Sherando Warriors overcome Bulldogs

STEPHENS CITY – Something about the first set woke up Sherando High School senior Kelsey Singhas and her Warrior teammates Wednesday night as they cruised past Martinsburg High School, West Virginia, in an interstate clash between teams that had already met once this year.

The Warrior volleyball team rode the three-year starter for scores of 26-24, 25-15 and 25-19 to register its fifth victory in six matches in knocking off the Bulldogs (0-2) for the second time in a week.

That “something” was a feisty set of ‘Dogs, who lost to the Warriors at home 25-12, 25-11 and 25-15, also in straight sets.

Having been drubbed by Sherando by a total of 37 points at MHS, Martinsburg coach John Everson was encouraged by his young team’s play. On this night, the Bulldogs extended the Warriors to additional points in set one and then scrapped their way along in the deciding frame.

“I’m glad you said that,” said Everson afterward. “Let me tell you who we used tonight. We played two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and two freshman” against a Sherando unit that featured more experienced performers.

Each squad was without its tallest player. Everson said Martinsburg’s Keara Heck remained home, ill, while Sherando coach James Minney failed to play Melissa Gaudette. The senior was dressed but had a sore ankle. Minney said he wanted Gaudette healthy for a Friday conference matchup against Woodgrove at home.

“That is a conference game and this wasn’t so we decided to rest her,” Minney said.

Even so, he had Singhas, who was second in the area with 178 kills in 2014.

“She’s a heckuva player,” said Everson.

“Usually when we need the points we feed the outside (because of the angles),” said Minney. That’s where Singhas, a second-team all-district performer a year ago, resides.

The three-year starter accomplished nine kills in the decisive first set enroute to a match-leading 19 in just three sets. Singhas said she believed her personal best was 13 spikes in one frame.

“I guess we weren’t scoring,” said Singhas, “and usually when that happens we go to the highest percentage shot.”

Martinsburg surprisingly led the first set 16-10 when Singhas and setters Kelsie Utz, Kelsea Wilkins and MacKenzie Cornwell went to work.

Participating from the outside right as she faced the Bulldog defense, Singhas notched five kills among Sherando’s half-dozen straight scores to tie up the set at 16.

Even so, Martinsburg, which had never trailed in the frame, edged ahead again 20-18 on the strength of a Sherando unforced error.

From there the game was tied four more times, including 24-24. Needing to score a two-point lead to close out the set, Brook Aston scored an ace and finally Singhas made another kill to win the set.

“I thought (Martinsburg) played well, better than they did over there,” said Minney.

“We played that match, videotaped it, and then worked on correcting our errors,” said Everson. “I told them, ‘Look, give Sherando their due, but we didn’t play like we could.’ The good thing is, we’re done with Sherando. If we keep playing like this over in Berkeley County, we’ll be all right.”

The Martinsburg coach said his front line sometimes contained as many as two freshman as Singhas and teammate Alaina Paige flummoxed the Bulldogs time and again. Paige finished with eight kills, an ace and a block.

Having returned from the six-point deficit, Sherando went on to outscore the visitor 66-42 the remainder of the match.

Buoyed by the play of its senior scorer, Sherando jumped ahead with a 4-0 cushion in the second set. However, Martinsburg came back to tie the affair at 7-7 and trailed by 13-9 before the Warriors began rolling again. With Singhas serving up three aces, her team scored five straight points for a commanding nine-digit lead. The set finished with Sherando up by 10.

The Bulldogs refused to wilt.

They trailed 12-4 in the third after a Singhas kill, but supported by server Lakyn Byers, they rattled off six straight points. Byers notched three straight aces, so combined with an unforced Sherando error and a kill by MHS’ Sabrina Fox, Martinsburg pulled within 12-10.

Still holding a two-point advantage at 15-13, Sherando rattled off eight straight points on the way to a 23-13 spread. Among the eight scores, Singhas had two kills and teammate Sarah Schellhammer recorded an ace. The rest of the digits came on unforced errors on the part of the Bulldogs.

“We played some players in different positions (due to the Gaudette injury) and I think it was just a matter of us getting used to each other,” Singhas said.

Audra Smelser recorded two kills and two blocks for Sherando.

Martinsburg’s Byers recorded seven aces to lead both teams in that category. She received support from Abigail Joseph (six kills, four blocks and one ace), Sara DeJarnett (four kills) and Fox (three kills, two blocks).