Wildcats fall to visiting Dragons in five sets

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County’s rally fell short against visiting William Monroe in Tuesday night’s volleyball match between Bull Run District/Conference 28 foes.

The Wildcats struggled early and lost the first two games, then bounced back to win the next two only to fall to the Green Dragons in the decisive fifth game in a 3-2 (23-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 13-15) loss. It was the third straight defeat for Warren County (4-4).

“This three-game losing streak really has our confidence down,” Wildcats senior Jayme Goode said. “We just have to build up on it instead of just keep putting us down over and over again.”

Warren County, which has struggled with teamwork during its losing streak according to coach Dorinda Robinson, got off to a rocky start Tuesday by dropping a close decision in the opening set and falling victim to an error-plagued second game.

“No teamwork, no heart. Just one mistake led to another,” Robinson said of the Wildcats’ start.

But the Wildcats responded in the third set. Trailing William Monroe (1-4) 3-1 early on, Warren County tied the game on back-to-back blocks by senior Sam Schroyer, which began a 6-0 run for the Wildcats that also included a Schroyer kill and two aces from freshman Kaley Foulks.

Warren County methodically extended the lead to as much as eight points and held a 15-9 advantage before the Dragons rallied to eventually pull within 18-15 later in the set. Schroyer, Goode and junior Arianna Smoot each notched a kill as the Wildcats closed the game on a 6-3 run to earn a 25-18 win and cut the Dragons’ lead in the match to 2-1.

“I think that some of our players finally got pretty hype about what we were doing,” said Goode, who led the Wildcats with 13 kills. “We just kind of fed off each other, fed off each other’s energy and we just built off of that. It was so hard to lose that in the end.”

The Wildcats followed that with another win in the fourth set. With the game tied at 5-5, Goode tallied a kill to spark a 6-0 run that also included two blocks by Smoot and two aces by senior Hannah Wilson. A string of four straight aces by Foulks – who finished with 13 aces in the five sets – helped the Wildcats push the lead to 20-10 later in the set.

Warren County committed a string of five straight errors – four attacking – with game point before Michaela Berry ended the set with a kill to tie the match at 2-2.

“Just started making more plays,” Robinson said. “Maybe talking a little more and then the momentum got going and then we just lost it again in the fifth.”

Warren County struck first in the final set with a kill by Schroyer but William Monroe countered with four straight kills to gain a three-point lead. Warren County rallied from two-point deficits twice in the game – each time on a block by Smoot followed by a Goode kill – and cut the Dragons’ lead to 13-12 after a kill from Schroyer, but a Wildcats service error gave William Monroe match point. Dragons junior Angela Leake ended the match two points later with a kill.

Dragons coach Ken Lawson said his team “took our focus off” in the middle sets, but a lineup change prior to the fifth game gave Monroe a spark.

“My libero (Lauren Clark) is my second-best hitter as well so I had her hitting first for us,” Lawson said of the fifth-set switch. “She’s probably one of the best hitters in the league, so she was dynamite tonight as far as back row. That made a big difference for us.”

Though Warren County served 19 aces in the loss, the Wildcats missed a few serves in key moments, including three service errors late in the first set and one late in the fifth. Warren County missed 10 serves total.

Schroyer finished with eight kills and five blocks, Smoot had three kills and four blocks and Chelsey Butler finished with 15 assists for Warren County.

Senior Lizzie Whitmarsh led William Monroe with 10 kills, while Makenzie Taylor chipped in eight kills and Alexis Lam six aces.

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