Wildcats fall to Cavaliers in volleyball Class 3 state final
RICHMOND — Warren County had a top-notch volleyball season filled with history-making moments. However, the Wildcats came up short Saturday in the Class 3 state final.
“We played a very good Lord Botetourt team,” Warren County coach Dorinda Robinson said. “They were very solid top to bottom. We came out and did the best we could.”
The Wildcats started off solid. Two kills by Lauren Fox, and one each from Kaley Foulks and Nikki Roof helped give the Wildcats a 5-4 edge in the first set.
The Cavaliers used a 12-2 run to seize control of the match. Lord Botetourt’s Catherine Reinard had two service aces during the spurt, and sophomore outside hitter Miette Veldman had two kills.
“I thought we had a great warm-up,” Lord Botetourt coach Julie Conner said. “We had a lot of energy, and we were really excited to step out on the floor to start the match. I thought we did a really good job on serve-receive and really moved the ball around and got the ball to our hitters. And we stayed on it until we finished it.”
The Wildcats had trouble defending the Cavaliers’ hitters throughout the match. Lord Botetourt had three different players with at least 10 kills.
The Wildcats kept things close early in the second set. Warren County trailed 8-6, led in part by a kill and an ace by Foulks and three kills from Fox.
The Cavaliers closed 17 of the next 23 points to take a commanding 2-0 set lead.
“I think offensively we could swing with them,” Robinson said. “We put some balls down. Our biggest downfall (Saturday) was our defense not being able to get the ball up so our offense could have more opportunities. Then serve receive in a couple games let us down. We didn’t give our offense the chance that it needed. If we had the chance for our offense we maybe could have had a little bit better showing.”
The Wildcats kept things pretty even with the Cavaliers early in the third set. The Cavaliers led 10-9, aided by a kill each from Foulks and Roof.
Veldman and Brooklyn Shelton combined for three kills to help Lord Botetourt stretch the lead to 16-10. The Cavaliers held at least a 5-point lead the rest of the way.
Foulks said it was very tough to defend all of Lord Botetourt’s hitters.
“Our defense doesn’t just include back row, it’s blocking too,” Foulks said. “And we haven’t played a team that’s run a quicker set. They ran a quicker set. And it was really hard for us to get our block up. And we did get a lot of touches on the block, but we didn’t get very many full blocks.”
Fox said it was very hard to know which hitter the setter, Jordyn Kepler, was going to set it to.
“They were really well-rounded,” Fox said. “All their hitters were good. So it was hard to know where (Kepler) was going. (Kepler) was very good about choosing different people to go to, which I think really hindered us in the long run.”
Veldman led the Cavaliers with 18 kills and eight digs. Lara Veldman had 10 kills and 14 digs, and Shelton had 11 kills. Kepler had 43 assists. The Cavaliers had 47 kills as a team.
Conner said she was very proud of her team, which went 31-0 on the season and captured its first-ever volleyball state title.
“These ladies, they set a goal at the beginning of the season that this is where they wanted to be in November,” Conner said. “So I’m very proud of them for sticking to their goal. And they’ve stayed motivated throughout the season.”
Fox led the Wildcats with nine kills, and Foulks had eight kills and 10 digs. Britney Carter had five kills and Morgan Coons had 24 assists and nine digs for Warren County.
The Wildcats advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history. They won their first region title and won 17 matches in a row before the loss in the state final.
Robinson said she was very pleased with the season the Wildcats had.
“It was an awesome season,” Robinson said. “They ended the season 21-5. That’s pretty awesome. And we were district champs, region champs and state runner-up. The only thing better would be state champions.”