Wildcats fall short to Tigers in volleyball

FRONT ROYAL – Brentsville and Warren County both showed signs of opening game rust on Tuesday night, with both teams going on some big spurts.

The Tigers had the biggest spurt of the match rallying from two set points down in the third set en route to a 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 27-25, 25-13) Conference 28 volleyball victory.

Brentsville coach Amy Beard said she was very proud of the way her team handled some adversity.

“We got down a little bit – down in the game, down on ourselves. But we really did a good job of bringing it back together and digging down deep,” Beard said. “That’s what I told them. They really needed to dig deep.”

The Tigers looked to be in all sorts of trouble in the third set. Warren County held early leads of 18-12 and 19-14, but Brentsville’s Nicole Bulgrin had four kills in a span of six points to cut the lead to 19-17.

The Wildcats were able to stretch the lead to 22-18 on a block by Cor’shaunna Cunningham, but the Tigers responded again. A kill by Kylie Loudermilk and two service aces by Allison Tucker cut the lead to 22-21.

The two teams exchanged points and then a Brentsville error gave the Wildcats a 24-22 edge.

Bulgrin then took over for the Tigers. She had four kills over the next six points to lift the Tigers to a 27-25 win and a 2-1 set lead.

“She played middle for us last year, and I talked to her before the season started and said I really want you to work on outside because you’re such a strong hitter,” Beard said. “She gives us so many options there.”

The Tigers have 10 players back from last year’s team, which advanced to the Region 3A East tournament. Warren County coach Dorinda Robinson said that she was happy with how her teams played at times against a quality opponent.

“Brentsville’s a very good team,” Robinson said. “They got two hitters that are pretty good. (Bulgrin and Loudermilk) are good. They’re a good team. We’ll go back and practice, and we’ll play better the next time.”

The fourth set was close early on. Brentsville held a 13-12 lead, and then scored 10 consecutive points on the serve of Elizabeth Meldrum. Bulgrin, who had 22 kills in the match, had three more kills during the run.

A block by Tucker sealed the win for the Tigers.

The first set appeared to be going Brentsville’s way early on. The Tigers built a 19-16 lead, but two kills by Warren County senior Arianna Smoot and one by Kaley Foulks helped the Wildcats on a 4-1 spurt to tie the set at 20-20.

A kill by Brentsville’s Megan Rayno gave the Tigers a 21-20 lead, but Warren County won the next five points to take the opening set.

The Tigers took control early in the second set. They scored the first seven points and held on for a 25-17 win to tie the match at a set apiece.

Beard said she is hoping that last year’s experience will help the team this season.

“We didn’t play well in regionals last year, so that’s a big motivator – to get that taste of it,” Beard said.

Smoot led the Wildcats with five kills and five blocks. Britney Carter had five kills and five blocks, and Cunningham had three kills and six blocks for the Wildcats.

“For the first game I thought we looked OK overall,” Robinson said. “We just got to pick up a few things.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com