Wildcats sweep Yellow Jackets for second straight win

FRONT ROYAL – With the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2014-15 female athlete of the year Autumn Troxell graduated from the Warren County High volleyball roster for the first time in five years, some may discount the Wildcats’ chances this season.

However, if Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over James Monroe is a precursor, perhaps fans need not worry so much.

The shutout victory over the Yellow Jackets was the second straight 3-zip whitewashing of the season for coach Dorinda Robinson’s team, as it climbed to 2-1 with a consecutive home victory of the young campaign.

This was James Monroe’s opener.

“Autumn was a great player for us, there’s no doubt about that,” said Robinson after her team’s win, “but without her, everybody has to step up.”

Troxell, a four-year starter, made 432 kills and 127 blocks over that span, but the Wildcats are hoping that an eight-senior team can pick up the slack for Troxell, who is playing volleyball and basketball at Randolph College this year.

“Without Autumn, I think a lot of people aren’t expecting as much for us this year, but we’re out to prove that we can improve with a full team effort,” said Warren senior Emma Wright, who was participating in her first match of the season.

Wright, a member of last year’s team, has been enrolled in an emergency medical technician program affiliated with the Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, where she has been taking classes and also going out on calls.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Wright, who nonetheless does not discount the severity of what she has been involved in on a consistent basis since the summer. The program finished Monday and so she suited up with the rest of her team, although she has been practicing.

“You know when you’re on a cardiac arrest calls it’s very serious, but I’m learning a lot,” said Wright, who hopes to be a paramedic in the future. Already, she has earned enough credit to be a certified nursing assistant.

Sports is not as pressurized as helping to save a life, but Wright, like her coach, was happy to see all the Wildcats take part in the victory against the visiting Yellow Jackets.

Robinson did not use a libero (defensive specialist) against James Monroe, in part to give every girl on the varsity a chance at a variety of positions.

“We were able to play everybody. Everybody got a chance to get some kills,” Robinson said.

Michaela Berry led all scorers with seven kill- all of which came in the first two sets.  Senior Jayme Goode added five kills-all coming in the first game – while Adriana Smoot added five kills and a block.

Robinson substituted liberally throughout a match in which Warren outscored Monroe 25-16, 25-15 and 25-12.

The Wildcats so dominated that only one Jacket, Imani Smith, scored as many as three kills. Two other James Monroe players accomplished a pair of kills apiece.

Seven Wildcats scored at least a goal or an ace, with players like Michayla Bacon and Mary deVenoge collecting three kills each. Hanna Wilson added three kills, three aces and one block.

Only one game seemed in doubt at the Warren County gym-the deciding third set of the night.

In that frame, the Wildcats went ahead 11-4 until James Monroe cut the advantage to 13-11. From there, the ‘Cats outscored their opponent 12-1 to end the match.

In the first game, Warren County staked a 13-5 advantage and permitted James Monroe to come within just five points on one occasion. In game two, Warren opened a 9-0 lead.

Monroe whittled it down to 12-7, but Warren reopened a 23-10 on its way to victory.

The Wildcats finished as a conference semifinalist in 2014, and obviously this year’s team is hoping to improve on that.

“From day one, I’ve told them we lost a big player, but we have 15 members of this year’s team so everybody has to step up,” said Robinson.