Skyline serves up opening win

Skyline's Nikea Whitmore goes up for a block as the ball passes her during a volleyball match Monday night against Eastern View in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – When Jessica Sims serves, good things happen.

This was the report Monday night from Skyline High School’s boisterous Andrew Keller court as the Hawks’ 2016 volleyball edition opened play against larger school Eastern View.

Fourteen times the Skyline senior stepped to the service line against the Cyclones and 12 times she returned with winners in her team’s 26-24, 25-15 and 25-8 victory in the season-opening match for both schools.

“You just want to get every ball in to score as many points as you can,” said Sims. “There are little things you can do, but basically what I’m trying to (do is) serve the ball inside the lines.”

Sims, a first-team All-Conference 28 choice as setter in 2015, chipped in 10 service points including five aces. Senior Nikea Whitmore added three aces to go with four kills and senior Allison Crescienzi added two more.

Skyline's Alana Smith goes up for a kill while teammate Shyla Schmitz, front left, looks on during volleyball action Monday night against Eastern View in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We’ve been strong off our serves, but at the same time we’ve been able to get some free balls. We serve strongly,” said Skyline coach Erika Berry.

Sims was strong from the service line early and late in the straight sets victory, while Whitmore and Crescienzi added in.

Sims’ services resulted in the Hawks’ first eight points as they opened ahead 8-0.

Trailing in the first set, Eastern View reeled off nine straight points to jut ahead 13-12.

“Jessica is our quarterback,” said Berry. “When a player makes a bad shot or gets down on herself, she picks them up. If she needs to get on them, she does that too. She’s appreciated.”

Skyline's Alexis Grim dinks a shot over Eastern View's Schuylar France during a volleyball match Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

From there, Skyline trailed in the game by 3-points on two occasions, but came back to score the game’s final four points on two unforced errors and two aces by Crescienzi.

In the second game, a pair of kills by Whitmore spurred the team from a 10-all tie to an 18-10 lead. Sims jumped in the service box and watched as her teammates scored four points.

The Cyclones would come no closer than seven goals the rest of Game 2.

Game 3 was a blowout. Whitmore accomplished four aces during the game.

“Nikea is our spirit leader,” said Berry. “It seems like whenever she makes a big shot it gives us a big boost. It was that way tonight.”

Skyline's Molly Meador goes up for a block by a hit from Eastern View's Taylor Davis during volleyball action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It’s really up to the upperclassmen to pick up the younger players,” Whitmore said.

The Hawks are coming off an eight-victory season in which they progressed to the conference playoffs.