James Wood shuts out Sherando

WINCHESTER – The last time Sherando and James Wood high schools met in girls’ volleyball, Sherando extended James Wood to five sets.

From the Colonels’ perspective, that might have been a good thing.

James Wood won that match over its cross-Frederick County foe 3-2, but the Colonels – as evidenced by their overall 13-1 record, 4-1 in the Northwestern District and 3-1 in Conference 21 West play – rarely lose a match, much less a set.

So, when James Wood, which trails only undefeated Millbrook in the Northwestern District race, was challenged, the Colonels were sure to remember what happened at the Warriors’ home.

Thursday, at Donald Shirley Gymnasium, the Colonels took it out on the Warriors (7-10, 1-4, 1-3) by the scores of 25-19, 25-11 and 25-23 in a 3-0 shutout which only seemed contested in the final set.

“We took them to five sets (a Sherando 3-2 victory) last time, so I think our team knew they could do it,” said Sherando coach James Minney.

It was just a matter of doing it.

“The last time we played them they took us to five sets, so that gave us a little momentum tonight. We wanted to play well,” said high-scoring Taylor Heishman, of Sherando.

Heishman, a senior, was dominant in each of the three sets played before a good crowd at James Wood.

She connected on two kills in the first set, and eight kills and five blocks in the second. In the match decider, Heishman collected four kills. On the night, she put away 14 of those kinds of points and five blocks.

“They just controlled the ball. Taylor is a dominant player, but Leilani (Burch) and Jessica (Putnam) are equally good,” said Minney.

Behind Heishman’s dominating performance, Morgan Biggs collected seven kills and three blocks, Putnam put up eight kills – five in the first set – two aces and one block, and Burch added five kills.

“I thought we played well in the first and third (sets); it was that second one where we didn’t play as well,” Minney said.

Certainly, Heishman had something to do with that as she scored 8 points in the second frame for James Wood.

After several ties and lead exchanges early, James Wood settled down in the first set.

The Colonels opened up a 4-point lead at 13-9, then took that out to 18-12. Sherando scored twice to pull within 4 points. James Wood was able to get it to a 5-point spread at 20-15, when the Colonels began making mental errors.

A 4-point string by the visitors – highlighted by the serving of Jessica Poole; a kill by MacKenzie Cornwell (three on the night) and several Colonels errors – was the difference as the Warriors got the Colonel lead to 20-19.

“Consistency,” is what James Wood coach Paul Hillyard said he was looking for from his team.

According to Hillyard, his squad committed five service errors in the first set, three of the same kind of miscues in set two and then made 13 hitting errors in the third set.

“A lot of them were on us. They put the ball in play and we made some errors,” the coach said.

Yet Hillyard, whose team’s only loss was to the Pioneers 3-0 on October 6, had to be pleased with the effort his gold-and-blue-clad athletes put forth.

“Taylor was strong and (Biggs) can play too,” he said, pointing to his junior hitter.

As Minney mentioned, there was not much of a scrap in the second set.

James Wood started out 4-0 and never looked back, capping the 14-point victory on two kills by Heishman.

Having lost game one by 6 points and game two by double digits, Minney was interested in how his club would react.

It was Sherando which forced the action on James Wood in game three.

Warrior senior Melissa Gaudette, who registered 10 kills and three blocks in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss at the hand of Handley High School, was particularly persuasive in the third set of this match.

She finished the night with six kills and four blocks to go with Rachel Burton’s four spikes, and three blocks and four blocks for Elizabeth Dolsen.

Gaudette, Burton and Dolsen were on their games as Sherando almost pulled off the third-set victory.

After the third tie at 5-all, Sherando got into a rhythm. The Warriors expanded their lead to 8-5 – their largest of the night thus far.

The advantage spiked to 5 points before James Wood rebounded.

With Biggs blocking and scoring, the Colonels erased their deficit with a quintet of scores and the 10-all tie, the fourth such knotting of the third frame.

But Sherando would not quit. The Warriors went ahead 14-11 on a Colonel fault.

In fact, the visitors did not trail until falling behind 22-21 when James Wood took its first advantage of set three.

Said Hillyard, “Yes, I think we may have gotten a little complacent.”

After a tie at 23, Biggs, then Heishman, collected kills to close out the match.

Said Heishman, “Me and Megan (Hillyard, a Colonels setter) really work well together. We’ve played a lot together and we both play travel ball. We’re not on the same team, but we’re sure to get some time together to practice in the summer.

“Our team is really more like a family,” she said. “We argue, but we’re like sisters. We get along great at the end.”