Wildcats get sweep, but Falcons seeing improvement

WOODSTOCK – Central High School’s volleyball team dropped its 14th straight match at home against Warren County on Tuesday night, but Falcons head coach Alyssa Bane is seeing an upward trend.

Though the Falcons were swept for the 14th time in 17 matches this season on their “Dig Pink” night to promote cancer awareness, they remained competitive with the visiting Wildcats in two of the three games before eventually falling 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-22) in Bull Run District action.

Central (1-16, 0-11 Bull Run) held a 1-point lead in the third set before the Wildcats (12-8, 6-5) reeled off four straight points to complete the sweep.

“I’m definitely seeing improvement,” said Bane, who is in her first year guiding a Central squad that was winless last season. “I just keep telling them every game they just need to finish. They’re there, they’ve played and they compete with them, they just need to know how to finish at the end and that’s probably been our problem the whole season. They can easily compete with everybody that they play with, they just have to finish at the end.”

The Falcons, who haven’t won a set in two weeks, opened Tuesday night’s match with an 8-5 lead in the first set that included a 3-0 run powered by a kill by Kila Watson and an ace from Alisia Turner. Warren County responded with a 13-1 run that included a kill and three blocks by Arianna Smoot and three kills from Mary deVenoge to claim an 18-9 advantage.

Warren County committed five straight errors to allow the Falcons to cut the deficit to 4 points before another Smoot block, an ace from Morgan Coons and a kill by Kaley Foulks pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 22-14. The Falcons pulled back to within 5 with back-to-back aces from Turner before Foulks struck for a kill and followed with an ace to seal the 25-19 win.

“I think we played well,” Wildcats coach Dorinda Robinson said. “We’ve got a few injuries, some sick people, so mixing the lineup up a little bit but I thought everybody played well, played hard. Tried to stay focused as much as possible.”

Coons (match-high six aces) gave the Wildcats an immediate boost in the second set, as her 7-point service run – which included four aces – helped Warren County build an early 9-1 lead. Warren County rolled to a 25-12 win from there as seven different Wildcats tallied at least one kill.

Smoot (four blocks) led all players with eight kills over the three games, Foulks had seven and deVenoge, Cor’shauna Cunningham and Lauren Fox each had three kills for the Wildcats.

“I was trying to move the ball around a little bit more. I got the ball to Cor’shauna a little bit more and she hit the ball. Just trying to spread it around with our hitters, get a lot of people involved,” Robinson said.

“I did tell them (Monday) at practice that we have four games left and it’d be good to go into the postseason with a little momentum. These are all winnable games for us, we’ve just gotta go out there and do it. So hopefully that’ll keep it going and push us into the postseason.”

The third game proved to be the most competitive of the night, as Warren County’s 15-11 edge midway through the set ended up being the largest lead for either team in the frame.

Central erased that deficit with a 5-0 run that included a block and a kill by Caitlin Hottle for a 1-point advantage and rallied from a 20-18 hole to tie the set on Kylie Stottlemyer’s third kill of the frame.

Two straight Warren County errors gave the Falcons a 22-21 lead before the Wildcats clinched the sweep with back-to-back kills by Fox and Smoot and two straight aces from libero Amalia Abrego.

“A lot of it is just when they get down on themselves they can’t pick themselves back up,” Bane said of Central’s inability to finish. “But they did a good, a really good job of picking themselves back up and cheering themselves on and really out-hustling themselves.”

Stottlemyer’s three kills led the Falcons in the loss, while Watson and Darden Lear (two blocks) had two kills apiece. Olivia Gochenour had two aces and a kill for Central.

The Falcons return to action on Thursday at William Monroe, while Warren County will host Strasburg the same night. Both teams have three matches remaining before their respective conference tournaments.

“Stay focused, and we’ve gotta play. Gotta play to win,” Robinson said of her message to the Wildcats as the regular season winds down. “We’ve got three left and two of them we’ve won and one of them we lost to, that we hope to fix, and so we’ve still got three big games coming up and we’ve gotta play.”

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