Stonewall falls to Luray

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School volleyball player Emily Ball did all she could on Thursday’s Senior Night at the gymnasium; the problem for the senior and her teammates was that Shenandoah District/Conference rival Luray had more than one of her kind on its side of the court.

“They have some really good hitters,” said Stonewall coach Lindsey Dinges, whose team finished its regular season with a 3-0 sets loss at the hands of the Bulldogs.

The Generals (3-18 overall, 1-4 district) will move into the Conference 44 tournament portion of its schedule on Nov. 1 when they travel to William Campbell in the first round.

“It’s almost the same circumstances as last year. We had a similar record and played William Campbell in the first round and won. So we’re trying to build off of that,” said Dinges.

“We just had the attitude tonight that we had nothing left to lose, so we might as well leave everything out there,” Ball said.

She most certainly did. Playing with fellow seniors Jessica Pechie and Madison Long for maybe the last time at the Stonewall Jackson gymnasium, Long led the Generals with 10 kills and nine blocks.

She gave away at least an inch or two against each member of Luray’s (9-11, 7-7) front line. Still she gave her teammates hope until the end.

She was countered by Bulldog junior Kristen Weaver (12 kills, one block and three aces), junior Brianna Sine (eight kills, one block) and juniors Morgan Adams and Ashlee Housden, each of whom delivered five kills in the three sets.

Stonewall started off in the first game behind 4-0. In fact, it was midway through game two that the Generals staked their first advantage over the Bulldogs.

They tied the initial set three times before Luray went on what was the first of several long, scoring steaks they showed throughout the first two sets.

They scored six straight points to go ahead 17-11 in game one when Dinges called timeout.

Stonewall got within 4 scores of Luray, 19-15, on a block-kill by Ball.

The Generals trailed by 4 a second time. This instance, the Bulldogs scored the set’s final four points for a 25-17 victory.

Stonewall showed more drive in set two; actually getting the lead at 15-14 on Ball’s kill.

In fact the second frame was tied seven times until the Bulldogs broke through with five straight points to end the game at 25-20.

Having lost 11 straight matches coming into this one – all but one by shutout – the Generals could have simply gone through the motions in the deciding third game.

However, the seniors, and a large crowd of Stonewall Jackson fans that had come to honor them, would not let the red, black and white-clad Generals go quietly.

Trailing 20-11 the home team decided to make a set of it. It was the Generals’ turn to go on a 5-0 run to pull within 20-16.

Ball’s two blocks and one kill in the same rally had the Stonewall team thinking of a rare set victory, but Luray buckled down for the 25-19.

“We have worked so hard. I don’t think our record reflects how hard we’ve worked. I love this team and love these girls. We’re all going to miss it,” Ball said.

“I’ve tried to remain positive with this group all season. They worked hard. There was no sense in being overly critical,” said Dinges.