Warriors sweep past Skyline

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando and Skyline each have young volleyball teams that are going through growing pains this season. When the two teams met Thursday night it was the Warriors who showed they are a little further along in gaining the experience needed to win.

Sherando swept past Skyline, 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-19), in Northwestern District action.

“I feel like we did well,” Sherando senior Alaina Paige said. “We definitely did better with our passing than we have. So we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.”

The Warriors (7-6, 1-1 Northwestern) had to replace their entire back row from last year due to graduation. Sherando has only four players, all seniors, with varsity experience before this season.

Sherando coach James Minney said that he has some growth in his younger players.

“The younger girls are in the back row and they’re doing better. They’re getting better,” Minney said. “It’s been tough, but they are getting better. If they focus and can get the ball to the setter, then we can get a decent set and go after it. We’ve got some good hitters up front.”

Skyline (2-9, 0-1 Northwestern) was the more aggressive team throughout the first set and took an 8-6 lead. Skyline junior Alexis Grim had three kills and Jessica Sims had one to help give the Hawks the lead.

Aided by 10 Skyline errors, Sherando turned things around with a 19-6 run to end the set.

“They looked good and they are good. They just cannot get in a groove together,” Skyline coach Erika Berry said of the first set. “We can’t play 25 points. We play and we push and then it just starts falling apart with errors on our own side. We just need to clean it up and it’s that confidence factor – it’s not there. They’re a young team. They’re new to varsity. We tighten up and we get really timid.”

The two teams were back and forth early in the second set. Two kills by Sherando senior Mackenzie Cornwell gave the Warriors an 11-7 lead. Four more Skyline errors helped push the lead to 15-9. A serving error cut the lead to 15-10, but Sherando scored 10 of the next 11 points to finish off the set. Paige and senior Melissa Gaudette combined for five kills during the run.

“We did a lot more talking and communicating on the court, which definitely helps with how aggressive we play,” Paige said of the second set.

The Hawks soared to the lead early in the third set. Grim and Molly Meador each had a kill and Shyla Schmitz and Nikea Whitmore had a block each to help give Skyline a 10-6 advantage.

The Warriors battled back with nine straight points, including two kills and a block by Paige and two service aces from Cornwell for a 15-10 lead.

“We definitely didn’t focus as much, but we had to pull it together to come through with the win,” Paige said. “We turned it around by being more aggressive at the net and talking more on the back row and helping each other out with the plays.”

A kill each by Whitmore and Grim helped the Hawks trim the lead to 18-15, but that was as close as the Hawks could get the rest of the way.

Grim led the Hawks with six kills, while Whitmore had four kills and a block.

Berry said her young team, which has only three seniors, just needs to gain some confidence and overcome a mental barrier.

“I really truly believe if we can just get that ‘W’ that things would turn around, because they have the talent,” Berry said. “We have that losing mentality right now — and that’s Skyline volleyball. So we are learning how to win and that’s difficult to overcome as a coach. I can coach them skills and I can help them and tell them where they need to be, but I can’t coach mental.”

Paige led the Warriors with 10 kills and one block, while Gaudette had eight kills and two blocks.

Minney said that the Warriors don’t have a game next week, and the break will give them a chance to improve.

“A lot of times we got to hold back on what we’re going to do (in practice) because we got to play that next night. Conditioning stuff like that we can’t do a lot of it,” Minney said. “It’s going to be nice. I’m looking forward to the break and they’re looking forward to the break. We can relax a little bit and enjoy it, and work in practice and try to get better.”

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