Hawks continue to tumble in road loss to Judges

WINCHESTER – The struggles continued for Skyline High School’s volleyball team Monday night on the road at Handley.

The Hawks, who haven’t fared well on the court in 2016, remained winless in Northwestern District play as Handley rolled easily to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-7, 25-13) sweep on a night when both teams donned pink jerseys to help promote cancer awareness.

Skyline, which hurt itself with unforced errors against the Judges, is just 3-14 overall this season and 0-4 against district competition.

“At this point just the confidence is being shot,” Hawks head coach Erika Berry said.

“It’s the Frederick County schools. We see this every year. It’s just hard. But to come out tonight and make that many errors on ourselves, and I don’t think the girls are noticing how many errors – it’s us, it’s not the other team. It’s like beating a dead horse right now.”

The Hawks were uncharacteristically inconsistent at the service line against the Judges (6-8, 3-3 Northwestern District), as they misfired on 11 serves, including six in the opening set.

“I think that just goes to say how rough of a night we had all around, defense, passing, serving,” Berry said. “Serving usually is our strong suit. Most of those girls are in the 80 to 90-percent serving, so just rough night all the way around.”

Skyline opened the match with a 3-1 lead while Jessica Sims notched a kill and an ace and Molly Meador added a kill on a free ball at the net in the early going. Three straight Skyline errors followed and, after Alana Smith’s kill tied the game at 4-4, Handley went on a 4-0 run that included a pair of kills by Meredith Watts, an ace by Maggie Wise and a block by Sarah Snow.

The Judges’ lead soon stretched to 11 points and they ran away with the 25-14 win and a 1-0 advantage in the match.

The second set got out of hand quickly, as the Judges powered out to a 13-1 lead behind a 9-point service run by Mya Mintschenko (three aces during the run), and Skyline never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

The Hawks mustered just one kill in the second game and finished with 14 as a team through the three sets. Wise alone had 13 kills for the Judges.

“I think with the digging or the defense so off – the blocking wasn’t there. They were getting free range through the court, so anything we did get up was either tight to the net or just out of the system. It’s hard to be aggressive with those balls,” Berry said. “Once we do get in a rhythm there are some girls that can move that ball and put it on the court. We just couldn’t find that tonight.”

Wise ensured Handley would complete the sweep in the third game as she blasted seven kills – all off sets from Mintschenko (match-high 22 assists) – to help the Judges build an 8-3 lead.

Skyline halved the Judges’ lead when Shyla Schmitz notched a kill to end a 4-0 Handley run, but the Judges quickly pushed their advantage to 13 points and led by no fewer than 10 the rest of the match.

Sims led the Hawks with four kills, six assists, while Nikea Whitmore added three kills. Smith had two kills and an ace.

Skyline has three regular season matches remaining, all at home, against Northwestern District foes Sherando (Thursday), James Wood and Millbrook before the Conference 28 tournament. Berry said the message to the Hawks now is “just play.”

“At this point the girls have nothing to lose. It’s just play hard, play it out. What you wanna make of this season you can do now,” Berry said. “We go into the playoffs, we have a fresh start there and you play until you lose. So they can come alive then or we continue down this path.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com.