Inexperienced Warriors take strides in volleyball win over TA
Sherando High School volleyball coach James Minney said he expected his young team to experience growing pains early the season, and the Warriors have. But Thursday’s match against Turner Ashby – the first home game of the season for Sherando – showed that progress is also being made.
The Warriors, who fell in four sets to the Knights in last week’s season opener and were swept by Fauquier on Tuesday, rebounded from a first-set loss on Thursday to beat Turner Ashby 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-16).
“We got on a roll and didn’t give up when we were behind, lost the first set,” said Minney, whose team is now 1-2. “Usually we’ve started tanking early but I think maturity’s coming with it.”
Sherando has made a habit of falling behind early in games and continued that trend against the Knights, trailing 7-2, 13-2, 6-3 and 12-6 to start each of the four sets Thursday night. But a surge from being down 11-0 to open the second game gave the Warriors some confidence.
“Coming back from that deficit showed them that they can come back from a deficit. That’s something they haven’t done,” Minney said. “… Learning to come back, that was huge. That was huge from a young group.”
Sherando’s roster losses from a season ago were tremendous – the 2016 senior trio of Melissa Gaudette, Alaina Paige and Mackenzie Cornwell combined for 477 kills last season, were the team’s top three blockers and trailed only current junior Kaylee Bryant in digs. But Minney named seniors Elizabeth Dolsen and Rachel Burton, junior setter Alyssa Meyer (a first-year varsity player) and returning varsity defenders Bryant (libero), Allison Selznick and Jessica Poole as those who have started emerging as the Warriors’ on-court leaders in 2017.
Dolsen (three aces, block) and Burton (two blocks) each had 11 kills in Thursday’s victory. Junior Mackenzie English had three kills and six blocks and Meyer had four aces and 21 assists.
“We needed (the win) because it’s tough all the way through for us,” said Minney, whose team hosts Brentsville next Tuesday. “We’re not an overpowering team and it’s gonna be a long road. We’re looking forward to it and they’re doing well.”
The Wildcats, like last week, saw mixed results in their two matches this week. Warren County swept Strasburg on the road (25-19, 25-12, 25-20) on Tuesday before dropping three straight sets against Handley (18-25, 16-25, 11-25) on Thursday.
Thursday’s defeat was the second sweep Warren County (2-2) has experienced at the hands of a Northwestern District opponent this season.
“We play spurts,” Wildcats head coach Dorinda Robison said on Tuesday, “like we’ll play really, really well. We’ll serve-receive well. We’ll hit well. We’ll pass well. We’ll defend well. Then we’ll run into a few of the ‘I forgot to move my feet.’ That’s just volleyball, you get in runs.”
In the win over Strasburg, junior Kaley Foulks struck for 14 kills for the Wildcats, senior Britney Carter had six and junior Lauren Fox had five. Senior Chelsea Ruffner had 10 digs and junior Morgan Coons finished with 26 assists.
Robinson said the Wildcats were able to stay focused and played well at the net in the win.
“Anything the defense gives them they were able to see it and pick it up,” she said. “Kind of what we did against (Rappahannock County last week), took what the defense gave us, whether it be a big, strong hit or a little dump off.”
Foulks added seven kills against Handley, Fox had six kills, Nicole Sayre had seven digs and Coons 14 assists in the loss.
Strasburg’s loss to Warren County was the first of the season for the Rams (2-1), and was their only match of the past week during which students in Shenandoah County were out of school.
Rams head coach Suzanne Mathias said the team lacked enthusiasm and communication during practice the day before the match and that carried over against the Wildcats. Those same two areas were positive points for the team in its first two matches of the season, she said.
“It’s a strength but at the same time right now it’s a weakness because we just didn’t do it,” Mathias said of on-court communication. “Warren County’s good. I mean they’re fast, and I think it caught the younger ones off guard. They read the floor very well and just put the ball where you were not covering. And that comes with experience, as far as putting it there, but then it also comes with experience to be able to read that on defense and get the ball up and that kind of thing.”
The Falcons’ losing streak to start the season reached five straight this week but Central did see some progress on the court.
After being swept by Dominion on Monday, the Falcons won their first set of 2017 in a four-game loss at home to Spotswood on Tuesday before taking Eastern Mennonite the distance in a five-set loss (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 13-15) on Thursday.
Maria Marston and Caitlin Hottle are tied for the team lead with 18 kills each through the first five matches, while Hottle also leads Central with 15 blocks. Bailey Gale has 40 digs and Rachel Irvin leads the Falcons in assists (55) and aces (10).
After opening the season with back-to-back sweeps, Skyline (3-1) fell in three sets to Millbrook on the road in its Northwestern District opener on Tuesday before rebounding with a 3-0 sweep at Brentsville on Thursday.
Stonewall Jackson is still searching for its first win of the season after falling in back-to-back sweeps to Shenandoah District foes Wilson Memorial and Luray on Tuesday and Thursday.