Wildcats hold on for rivalry victory

FRONT ROYAL – In the end, it was probably a match each team deserved to win.

Certainly match-winning Warren County High School’s volleyball team would disagree with that as the Wildcats (8-5 overall, 4-2 Conference 28) would take the 2 ½-hour, five-set match.

The visiting ‘Cats took the measure of crosstown rival and host Skyline 3-2 (17-25, 25-16, 25-18 and 17-15) in a battle of friendly forces from both sides of the net.

Earlier, Warren County had swamped Skyline 3-0 at its place.

Most of these Front Royal girls play on the same summer travel teams or leagues.

But somebody had to get the measure of the other, and the favored Wildcats were just able to get by the Hawks (2-10 overall, 1-7 conference).

“The way they hung in there is what I want to shine on this match,” said Skyline coach Erika Berry. “It’s a happy moment for our team. So many of them are new. I have to be proud of that.”

Both sides of Skyline’s Andrew Keller Court were pushing their favorite players on.

Skyline opened a 7-2 lead in game one, as Warren County coach Dorinda Robinson called timeout.

The next time the Warren County coach called time, Skyline had expanded its lead to 20-8. The Hawks were playing well and the Wildcats were making uncustomary mistakes.

Actually, Skyline would spread its lead to 12, 22-10, before the Wildcats started clawing back.

They got the lead to single digits 23-14 and closed to 23-17. A quick timeout by Berry seemed to get the Hawks’ heads back into the set.

They closed the game out, 25-17, on an error by the Wildcats and an ace by Tamara Grayson.

The Hawks led the match, 1-0, before their home folks.

The second game took a different look. There was one lead change and five ties until Warren County assumed its first 3-point lead of the night, 14-11. Again, Berry called timeout.

The Wildcats extended the lead to 4 and then the two rivals battled.

Finally, Warren County was able to open an 18-14 advantage.

That 4-point pad came as the result of a 4-point scoring streak by the Wildcats, who expanded their advantage to 7 before another Skyline timeout.

Warren County enlarged the cushion by an additional – 24-16 – before closing out the set. The match stood 1-1 with each Front Royal precinct reporting.

Similarly, in game three, there were three lead changes and five ties before Warren County opened an 11-8 advantage with two straight scores before a Skyline timeout.

The Wildcats were on their way to a 13-8 advantage. They expanded that cushion to 7 points before earning the third set 25-18 victory to take a 2-1 in games lead.

Game four was easily the best of the set to this point. Skyline enjoyed three leads by as many as 3 points, but each time Warren County battled back.

On the fourth one, 23-20, the Hawks found themselves two points shy of a victory set.

Victoria Crichfield coolly dropped in a serve the Wildcats could not handle, then Alexis Grim scored a kill to end the set. The match was tied at 2-all.

The competition continued into game five. Three lead changes and four ties brought Warren County to a 10-9 lead and timeout. It was the first of 4 straight points for the Wildcats, as they assumed a 13-9 cushion.

Then it was Skyline’s time to bounce back. The Hawks scored 4 consecutive points to tie it at 13.

Trailing 15-14, a point shy of losing the match, Warren County called timeout and scored the next three points for a 16-15 lead. The Wildcats scored the winning point from there.

“I just told them to play smart, play for one point. It’s a rivalry. After we beat them 3-0 maybe the girls underestimated (the Hawks), but it’s a rivalry game. That’s what you get with Warren County-Skyline,” said Robinson.