Warriors advance to regionals with sweep of Handley
STEPHENS CITY – Sherando wasn’t going to let history repeat itself.
Just eight days after dropping a five-set rally by Handley, the Warriors held off a third-set surge from the Judges. Sherando rallied late in the third set to finish off a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-20) victory over the Judges in the Conference 21A semifinals on Wednesday. The win along with top-seed Woodgrove’s five-set win over Millbrook in the other semifinal gives Sherando its first regional berth since 2011.
“It would be amazing to keep going and keep playing because it’s my senior year, and I know all the girls I’m playing with would love to do that too,” Sherando senior Kelsey Singhas said. “I think that’s what really set this off tonight is we wanted to keep going and we’re using it to push us and further us.”
The last time the Handley and Sherando teams played, the Judges rallied from two sets down to win the match, and they once again had a lead on Sherando in the third set on Wednesday.
The Judges used a 5-0 run, led by two kills from Maggie Wise and one by Mya Mintschenko and a service ace from Meredith Watts, to give them a 15-13 edge.
Sherando responded with five consecutive points, including a block from Hannah Bauer and a service ace by Dreaya Somerville.
“We didn’t want to let that happen again,” Singhas said of losing in five previously to Handley. “We just wanted to be in here and get it done with and just win.”
Sherando coach James Minney said that the 5-foot-9 Bauer missed the first five weeks of the season with a concussion, and has been coming along as the season has gone on and helped the Warriors out in the final set.
“Hannah Bauer came in during the third set and that helped,” Sherando coach James Minney said. “We put her in for some block a little bit and she helped out. A crucial play where she jumped up and was able to put the ball down on them and past them, and that’s something we don’t get from the others, because they’re not tall enough.”
The Warriors (13-8) eventually stretched the lead to 22-17 aided by a kill each from Bauer, Audra Smelser and Singhas.
The Judges (11-9) were able to cut the lead to three points at 23-20, but a kill by Singhas and a block by Alaina Paige ended the match.
“I just wanted to win the game,” Paige said of her match-ending block. “Handley played really good. Their hitters are really strong, so I just tried to get up as high as I can to help the defense.”
Sherando’s defense has been one of its strong points all season and that definitely continued against the much taller Judges.
“Brooke Aston and Sarah Schellhammer, everybody back there, is constantly digging and they just jell and mesh well together,” Minney said. “Balls are bouncing everywhere and they’re always able to be around it or know where it’s going.”
Sherando took an early lead in the first set and never looked back. The Warriors held a four or five point lead most of the way.
Handley took an 11-7 lead in the second set, but the Warriors rallied. Sherando used a 10-5 run to take a 17-16 lead on a block by Paige. Back-to-back aces from Singhas and a kill by Paige stretched the lead to 20-16.
Back-to-back kills by Handley’s Lauren Morris cut the lead to 22-19, but the Warriors won the final three points.
Sherando had only two service errors in the entire match. Handley was led by Wise with 10 kills and Morris with seven kills.
The Warriors were led by Paige with eight kills and four blocks and Singhas with eight kills. Somerville and Smelser had four kills and two blocks each for Sherando.
The Warriors play at Woodgrove on Thursday in the conference final at 6 p.m. Sherando beat the Wolverines in three sets earlier this season.
“They’ve come a long ways, obviously,” Minney said. “We played them well. We played them like we did Handley. It was close sets all the way through. We beat them in three, but they have the potential, because they’ve got a lot of height. They got a good outside hitter. They got a big tall middle hitter, and they got a good opposite (hitter).”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org