Wright aids Wildcats to fourth victory

QUICKSBURG – Although Warren County senior Emma Wright is a libero in volleyball, she functions much as a free safety in football.

In football, the job of that safety is to support the cornerback in run and pass coverage. Most important, the safety serves as the last line of defense.

Such it is with Wright as a defensive specialist. She most often plays the backline. It is her job to assist the offensive Wildcat players for goals. She often has to dig up balls that get by the front three teammates.

In other words, she cleans up messes, often bending low or getting on the floor to retrieve shots that otherwise would be aces and kills.

She did so Thursday night as Warren County dropped Stonewall Jackson 3-0 (25-12, 25-18 and 25-14).

“I’ve been a libero since I was in the seventh grade,” she said.

With Wright’s help and contributions from almost every member of the Warren County team (4-1), she helped the Wildcats to their fourth straight victory after suffering a season opening loss to Brentsville.

During the winning skein, Warren has allowed just one set to go to the opposition.

Wright, built low to the ground, is a big reason why. She had one kill and three aces, but supplied five assists and countless digs along the way.

Warren County, which had never seen its non-district opponent play (and vice-versa for Stonewall Jackson), came out sharp even after notching a 3-1 win Tuesday over arch-rival Skyline.

Perhaps a letdown could be expected by the streaking Wildcats, but there was none of that in the first set against the Generals (1-4).

Arianna Smoot (three kills in the first set enroute to six for the match and a total of three aces and two blocks) and teammate Sam Schroyer (five kills and one block on the way to a game-high eight spikes and two blocks in three sets) provided the firepower, while Michaela Berry (one kill, four aces) added support.

But Wright shone most brightly perhaps in the second and third sets when Warren County substituted liberally. In all, coach Dorinda Robinson played almost the entire roster. Eleven members registered at least a kill, an assist and/or a block.

But while lightly used players like Taryn Post, Amalia Abrego-Hernandez, freshman Mary deVenoge and Allison Hoelsher played perhaps their most minutes of the season, Wright was the one constant.

“She does a great job of getting us the ball and keeping the ball in play,” said Warren senior Jayme Goode, one of the Wildcat captains.

“I thought she did a good job for the most part,” said Robinson.

After the easy success in set one, and with the coach revolving players to offer different combinations, Warren perhaps lost a bit of concentration over the team it mastered by 13 points in the first set.

The Wildcats won sets two and three by 18 points, but the Generals regrouped and made the visitors work harder in the last two sets.

“For us to be successful, we have to have fun,” said Stonewall Jackson senior Brittany Singleton. “We have to get ‘out of our heads.’ We talked about that in the first timeout in the first set. Coach (Lindsey) Dinges talked about it and then we, as seniors, talked about it.

“‘Look,’ we said, ‘It looks like we’re playing a great opponent here tonight. But let’s take it as a challenge and have fun with it, instead of getting down when we made some mistakes.'”

“I’m never happy with a loss. I’d rather win,” said Dinges, “but there are some things here we can build on. We hadn’t seen Warren County, but they are very good. We played Strasburg earlier in the week and they’re good, and Warren County is a bigger school than us.

“We play Central Monday, which is a Shenandoah County rival, and then we open district play against Page County on Tuesday and our district is strong. Maybe playing some of these bigger schools will help us down the line.”

Warren County sprang to a 6-0 lead to start set two, and it appeared the game would go the same as the first frame. However, Stonewall cut the lead to 16-12 on a Jessica Pechie ace. Unfortunately for the Generals, they committed a serving fault and two unforced errors and dropped behind by 19-12.

They scored three straight points for the first time of the night to decrease the Warren advantage to 20-17; but, again, two unforced errors put the Wildcats ahead by five.

In set three, Stonewall came out its most confident of the match. The Generals worked their first tie at 1-1.

The hosts kept the Wildcats’ lead to four or fewer points after that and retied the affair at 10-10. But again, a fault and two unforced errors handed Warren a three-point lead.

Stonewall pulled its closest for the remainder of the match at 13-11. From there, Warren County outscored the Generals 12-3 for the straight-set victory.

“I think we’re improving each match,” said Dinges. “Against Strasburg, we seemed to be all over the place. Tonight we improved. Brittany, particularly played well. She was going up against (Smoot and Schroyer) and, for the most part, held her own.”

Singleton had two kills and two blocks. Madison Long had three kills and a block and Delaney Wallace had three kills and two aces for Stonewall.

Goode countered with three kills.