Pioneers too much for Warriors in sweep

WINCHESTER – Every time Sherando’s volleyball team tried to build a little momentum Tuesday night, Millbrook’s high-powered offense would take it right back.

The Warriors had a difficult time sustaining runs during the first two sets and blew a pair of 5-point leads in the third game as the Pioneers picked up a 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 26-24) home sweep in Conference 21A/Northwestern District action.

“We played well,” Sherando coach James Minney said. “We struggle playing against them from the fact that they’ve got so much power and we’re on defense the whole time. I thought we played really well. We played better this time. As much as it looked like we lost momentum it’s not that we lose the momentum, they just take the momentum from you and we don’t have the ability to block at the net as well and that’s where we struggle.”

The Warriors, who dropped to 3-2 in Conference 21A with the loss, failed to score more than 3 points in a row in each of the first two sets, and only scored a trio of consecutive points twice during that span, both times in the opening frame.

Both teams contested each other tightly in the first set before Millbrook (16-2, 2-2 Conference 21A) turned a one-point deficit into a 22-16 lead with a 7-0 run late in the game. Sherando cut the Pioneers’ lead to 23-21 thanks in part to back-to-back aces by senior Sarah Schellhammer and a kill by senior Kelsey Singhas before the two sides traded errors over the final 4 points to give Millbrook a 25-22 victory.

Millbrook again used a decisive run in the second set to gain a 2-0 advantage in the match. Sherando rallied from an early 14-9 deficit to cut the Pioneers’ lead to 16-14 after an ace by junior Alaina Paige, but Millbrook’s offense came to life as Alexis Weir, Imani Major, Abigail Koeller and Taylor Linder all smashed at least one kill during the closing 9-3 run.

“They have good hitters coming from every position so there’s not really much you can do,” Singhas said.

“We couldn’t really just pull it together and they were just kind of drilling them and drilling them at us and we just, I guess, couldn’t get set up quickly or better than usual.”

In all, Millbrook tallied 39 kills as a team – led by Major’s 13 – and sent Sherando senior libero Brooke Aston and the rest of the Warriors’ back row scrambling for most the match.

“They’ve got more power and they’ve got a little bit more height that allows them to block us,” said Minney, whose team finished with 30 kills. “We have to hit around them where they just hit over the top of us. It’s just a credit to them, they have a great program and they’ve done very well.”

Sherando’s most complete set on Tuesday came in the third frame, as the Warriors twice built up 5-point leads although they ultimately failed to hold them.

The Warriors built the first of their two largest leads of the night early in the third set, as Singhas – who led all players with 14 kills – erupted for four kills and a block to help her team build a 10-5 advantage.

Millbrook rallied to tie the set at 11 following a kill each by Koeller, Major and Linder and a pair of blocks by Emily Cleveland before the Warriors got a couple lucky bounces. Mackenzie Cornwell’s dig on Koeller’s kill attempt fell in for a point, and on the next volley Singhas’ bump fell into a hole in the middle of the defense. An ace by senior Kelsie Utz helped give the Warriors a 16-11 lead before the Pioneers’ offense came alive again.

Coming out of a timeout called by Millbrook coach Carla Milton, Linder smashed three kills and tallied a block in a 6-point span and Cleveland’s third block of the set later tied the game at 17-all. Three straight kills by Major and an ace by Emily Lowman gave Millbrook a 21-18 lead.

“We talked about not being planted in our spots on defense, making sure that we got a good pass to the setter so that our hitters could swing on them,” Milton said of the timeout.

A Sherando service error later in the frame set up Millbrook with game point at 24-20 but the Warriors rallied to tie it as Paige and Dreaya Somerville took turns trading kills before the duo teamed up for a block that tied the game at 24-all.

The Pioneers came right back with a kill by Koeller and Singhas’ attack sailed wide to end the match.

“I guess we just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and they took advantage of theirs when they had them,” said Singhas, who also had three blocks and three aces.

Paige and Somerville each had five kills apiece for Sherando, while Cornwell and Utz had 11 and eight assists, respectively.

Linder finished with eight kills for Millbrook, Koeller had seven kills and Cleveland chipped in four kills and four blocks. Elizabeth Carroll and Jordan Reid had 18 and 15 assists, respectively.

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