Passing keys Wildcats to ninth straight victory

Warren County's Kaley Foulks follows through with a kill as Skyline's Ali Haffer tries to defend during volleyball action Tuesday night at Skyline HIgh School in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County passed the ball very well on Tuesday night and Skyline did not.

Passing was a big key in the Wildcats 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-18) road victory over the Hawks in Northwestern District volleyball action.

“We’ve been working on passing a lot, because you can’t get a hit without getting a really good pass,” Warren County junior hitter Kaley Foulks said. “We had a really good passing night. I knew when we were warming up that we were going to have a good passing night, because everyone was just really on it. I think our pre-game, we warmed up a little (Tuesday) before we came here and that really helped.”

The Wildcats have won nine straight matches, and Warren County coach Dorinda Robinson said that passing has been one of the keys to their success.

“If we get that first pass our offense is pretty tough,” Robinson said. “We got lots of hitters that love to hit and they can put it down. They’re pretty smart. They can place it.”

Skyline's Tamara Grayson blocks a hit from Warren County's Britney Carter during volleyball action Tuesday night at Skyline High School. Rich Cooley/Daily

While Warren County was having success with their passes on Tuesday, Skyline coach Erika Berry said passing was the Hawks’ biggest downfall.

“I think it just kind of starts with the pass, and we just didn’t have a good passing night,” Berry said. “We couldn’t really get much of an offense running. Warren County is going to make you pay for any bad passes.”

The Wildcats (13-4, 7-4 Northwestern) jumped out to a big lead in the first set. Foulks played a key role in a 9-0 run that gave the Wildcats a commanding 16-3 lead.

Foulks served eight points during the streak and had four service aces.

“I love getting serving streaks,” Foulks said. “You just find one person that isn’t passing well at that moment and you just keep hitting it at them. It pulls us away. It really makes the difference.”

Warren County's Nikki Roof kills a shot as Skyline's Adrianne Kinsey waits to defend during volleyball action Tuesday night at Skyline High School. Rich Cooley/Daily

It was more of the same in the second set. Warren County scored the first seven points, including six errors from Skyline. The Hawks were able to pull within 9-5.

However, the Wildcats scored the next four points and led by at least seven points the rest of the set.

Skyline never led in the entire match, but did keep it close for much of the third set. Kills by Skyline’s Molly Meador and Alexis Grim cut the lead to 13-12, but the Wildcats responded once again.

A block by Foulks and a kill from Lauren Fox helped stretch the lead to 17-13. The two teams went back and forth the rest of the way until the Wildcats won the final three points of the match.

“I think we kind of let go a little bit sometimes,” Foulks said. “When we come out really strong the first two sets we think we don’t have to do as well the third, which is totally false. We need to do better. We need to start picking it up. But towards the end we kind of figured out we needed to pick it up a little bit. So we got through it.”

Foulks had 37 kills in a five-set win over Manassas Park last week, but she didn’t need to produce big numbers against Skyline. The Wildcats had a balanced hitting attack. Foulks had eight kills, one block and four aces. Lauren Fox and Nikki Roof each had four kills and one block for the Wildcats.

Warren County junior setter Morgan Coons said she enjoys setting for all of the hitters.

“I really trust our hitters a lot. They definitely helped me out,” Coons said. “We have a lot of different things that we try to do. We try and go to different places and different heights, and it seems to help always. It seems to work pretty well for us. All of our stronger hitters are really strong. I trust them 100 percent.”

The Hawks (7-11, 2-10 Northwestern) were led by junior Shyla Schmitz with five kills and Grim with three kills.

Berry said that Schmitz has really been improving and becoming a strong hitter for the Hawks.

“We’ve really been trying to get her to be a heavy hitter for us, be consistent,” Berry said. “And if we can put the ball in her hands then we do that well.”

Robinson said the Wildcats want to keep their momentum going into the final three games of regular season. She said as long as the team keeps passing like they did Tuesday they should be fine.

“It all starts with that first pass,” Robinson said. “You get that first pass where you want and then your offense will work. We’re stressing defense, stressing serve-receive to get that first pass.”