Aggressive Warriors sweep past Hawks

Kelsey Singhas Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando volleyball coach James Minney has been preaching to his team to be more aggressive and Tuesday night the aggressiveness paid off.

The Warriors came out strong from the start and knocked off Skyline, 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-16) in Northwestern District action.

“We’ve been trying to be a lot more aggressive,” Minney said. “We’ve been working in practice on going after the ball more often, trying to attack from more positions, just kind of set the defense off a little bit.”

Sherando had 37 kills in the match, and had six different players pick up kills in the first set.

“We’re trying to get everyone more involved and so not everyone knows that it’s going to the same person every time,” Sherando senior Kelsey Singhas said. “We try to change it up.”

Skyline hung tough early in the first set, but a kill each from Kelsea Wilkins and Singhas helped give the Warriors a 10-4 lead.

Skyline was able to trim the lead to four points on two occasions, but the Warriors responded with a strong finish to the set. The Warriors won eight of their final 13 points on kills.

Sherando came out with a bang to start the second set. The Warriors built a 15-3 lead on a combined 10 kills, two service aces by Dreaya Somerville and one service ace from Alaina Paige. Singhas had four kills, and Audra Smelser had three during the run.

“Audra’s doing a lot better this year. She hardly even played last year, and she’s just finally come alive,” Minney said. “She’s done a really good job these last couple (matches). She’s back to playing how she used to play. We’re excited to have her back in the role of hitting as well.”

Skyline was more competitive to start the third set. A kill by Alana Smith helped the Hawks keep the set close. Sherando used a 6-2 run, led by two kills from Somerville to take a 14-9 edge.

Two kills from Singhas eventually helped Sherando extend the lead to 21-12, before Skyline made one last surge. A kill each by Katelyn Bolt and Allison Crescienzi helped cut the lead to 24-16, but a kill from Paige finished the match off.

“We just couldn’t get aggressive over the block and stick with it,” Skyline coach Erika Berry said. “We got a little timid in there, and with a team like that you can’t give them freebies.”

The Warriors (8-3, 1-1 Northwestern) had to play without their tallest player 6-foot-1 junior Melissa Gaudette due to injury.

Sherando was coming off a tough four-set loss last week to James Wood, and Singhas said it was important to rebound from the defeat.

“It was real hard because we really wanted to get that, and we’re just looking forward to next time,” Singhas said.

Jenna Grim had four kills, and Taylor Ziemer had three kills and 10 digs for the Hawks. Jessica Sims had eight assists and Nikea Whitmore had three kills for Skyline.

The Hawks (7-8, 0-2 Northwestern) have won seven matches so far this season after only winning one last year. Berry said the Hawks just need to believe that they can compete with teams like Sherando.

“The girls have done a great job. It’s been a great turnaround year for Skyline volleyball,” Berry said. “Now I just need them to know that they can compete against teams like this, and I think we did. In some instances of the game, we did hang right there with them. Then we just couldn’t keep up.”

The Warriors had four players with at least five kills. Singhas had 15 kills and one block, and Mackenzie Cornwell had six kills. Paige and Smelser each had five kills.

Sherando is in a tough conference, but Minney said that he feels his team can compete with any of the other teams in Conference 21A.

“We’ll be competitive, whether or not we will win could be a different story, but we’ll be competitive,” Minney said. “They’re not going to come in and roll over us.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com