Eagles sweep Hawks

BERRYVILLE – Down seven points on the road is nowhere to be, particularly to start a match, but that was where Skyline High School’s volleyball team found itself Monday night at Clarke County.

But even after that – and although the Hawks (1-7) were shut out in the match 25-20, 25-21 and 25-20 – they still fought back.

Such has not been the nature of the Front Royal squad in the recent past. In its previous match, the Hawks led early in each of the three games but fell in straight sets because they could not hold leads.

At the Clarke County gymnasium, the situation was different.

Skyline took some early leads and fought back throughout each contest only to lose 3-0 at the end.

“We always play like that against Clarke County (4-2). They win a few points and then we win a few points,” said Skyline coach Erika Berry.

The trouble was the Hawks failed enough to topple the Eagles.

Actually, the visitors out-aced their opponents, serving up 11 scores against just two for the Eagles.

The problem, according to Berry, was that they made other mistakes.

“We get into a slump and things begin to get away. It’s a matter of playing with heart all 25 points. It gets down to playing with heart … mental toughness,” said the coach.

“Serving is about just getting the ball over the net and making sure to keep the ball in play,” said Skyline sophomore outside hitter Alana Smith.

Smith led all servers in terms of aces with five to go with one kill.

“With us it’s all about consistency. If you’re on the floor you’ve got to focus. If not …?”

Skyline was locked in from the start, even though it trailed 7-0 begin action.

The Hawks rallied back to trail 7-4.

They also fell behind by five points on three occasions, but continued applying pressure on the Eagles.

Ahead 15-10 on a kill by Eagle Jovanna Lansdown (a total of nine spikes on the night), Clarke County watched as Skyline climbed back into Game 1.

Down 4, Smith took over the serve. Jessica Sims (two kills, one ace) made a spike and an error on Clarke County made the score 15-13.

After another error by Clarke, Smith made back-to-back aces to put her team ahead 16-15 for the first time of the set. Two more Clarke County errors kept the Hawks up by one.

After the set was tied twice (the last at 19-all), the Eagles outscored the Hawks the rest of the way for the five-point victory.

In Game 2, there were four ties and two lead changes.

At 5-all, the Hawks ran off 4 straight points on a kill and two aces by senior Nikea Whitmore (five kills, three aces) and then an Eagle unforced error. The score was 10-6 in Clarke’s favor.

Then it was the Eagles’ turn to screech. They outscored the Hawks 7-1 for the 13-11 lead.

Following a kill by Skyline sophomore Molly Meador, Clarke County counted up another run – this one of five points-for the 18-12 advantage.

The lead stood at six and then a flood of errors helped the Hawks get back into it, 19-17.

The Hawks cut the lead to a digit but could get no closer as Clarke County scored the last two points of the set.

In Game 3, the Eagles expanded their advantage to 10-4 bringing on another Hawk comeback.

The visitors scored four straight points on Clarke County errors to make it 10-8.

A Skyline error made the spread three, but Skyline fought to a 12-all tie.

Trailing 15-12, more Clarke County errors gave the Hawks a lead of 16-15.

Four ties and two lead changes got the Eagles ahead again as they secured a 20-18 lead. They outscored their foes from there, 5-1.

“We showed we could battle. They battled on offense, but we’ve got to do more than just win serves, we have to be consistent throughout,” said Berry.