Generals win first volleyball match in three years

Stonewall's Israel Blank, left, Lillian Proctor, center, and Courtney Dellinger, right, celebrate after winning a game against Central Monday night in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – The moment Stonewall Jackson had been waiting for finally came on Monday night.

The Generals knocked off Shenandoah County rival Central in five sets for their first volleyball victory in three years.

Stonewall Jackson senior Israel Blank was on the team in 2015 when they had their last win.

“It just feels good for everyone to come together and play a whole game like that,” Blank said “When we played Stuarts Draft (last) Thursday, we played great in the first set and the fourth set, but those were really the only sets we played great. In the other sets, we were kind of crap and (Monday) we played well through the whole game.:

Stonewall Jackson’s 3-2 (25-16, 25-27, 25-20, 21-25, 15-9) win over Central on Monday was anything but easy. The Generals were on the verge of victory in both the second and fourth sets.

Stonewall's Lauryn Jansen comes up short as she dives to the floor for the ball Monday night against Central. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Generals led 20-17 in the fourth set, but Central rallied to win eight of the last nine points to force a fifth set.

Stonewall Jackson coach Lindsey Dinges said she was really proud of the way her team held its composure after dropping the fourth set.

“We had our downfall in the second game. We had another slip in the fourth game,” Dinges said. “Normally they don’t come back from that, but (Monday) they blew my mind. …For them to come back in the fifth game and not give up – they pushed the whole way through.”

The Generals (1-8) had the early lead in the fifth set, but Central ran off three straight points to take an 8-7 lead. Stonewall Jackson responded with a decisive run. A kill by sophomore Alexis Franklin got things started, but it was senior Maria Knauff that delivered the biggest blows.

Knauff had three straight kills to push the lead to 13-9 and two Central errors sealed the win.

Stonewall's Israel Blank goes up for a kill over Central's Caitlin Hottle during Monday night's match in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to get those kills,” Knauff said. “And it’s not just me. My entire team backs me up. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my great passers and great setters who can set me up and let me get those kills. And it’s all a team effort, but it’s the most amazing feeling to get kill after kill after kill – it’s just great.”

Knauff finished with 10 kills and one block and Blank had 10 kills, two blocks and two service aces for the Generals in the win. Franklin had seven kills and three aces, and Courtney Dellinger had five aces.

Dinges said sophomore libero Kylene Franklin also was a huge factor, making many saves on the back row for the team.

“Kylene Franklin saved us I don’t know how many times in the back row,” Dinges said. “She is the driving force of our back row, as she should be as the libero.”

The win snapped a three-year losing streak for Dinges and the Generals and it also helped avenge a 3-0 loss to the Falcons last week.

Stonewall's Kylie Franklin connects with a hit during their Monday night match against Central in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Blank said that picking up their first win of the season against Central makes the victory even better.

“They’re a county rival, them and Strasburg,” Blank said. “And they tend to have an attitude like ‘oh, it’s Stonewall.’ And plus since they just beat us last week I feel like they kind of came in like ‘oh, we got this, we already beat them.’ And especially the fact that it was in three sets. We didn’t really give them a fight then, but tonight we definitely showed up and we gave them a run for their money. …A lot of people think of us as a joke and that’s not us anymore.”

Knauff said it was her first victory on the varsity team and her first one overall since her freshman year on the junior varsity squad.

“It’s the most amazing feeling that I can ever have,” she said. “The energy, the happiness, the joy of going home and just being like ‘we won a game.’ And I can’t even describe it. It’s just an amazing feeling.”

The Generals have had flashes of success this season, including a five-set match with Strasburg and four-set matches against Luray, Page County, and Stuarts Draft. Dinges said it was nice seeing everything come together for her squad.

Stonewall's Lillian Proctor connects with a hit during Monday night's game against Central. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We’ve been putting together small pieces at a time, a set here, a set there,” Dinges said. “But this is the first time that they’ve really brought it all together. We’ve had sporadic moments, but to do it the entire game really feels good.”

Knauff said she feels like Monday’s win will give the team a spark for the rest of season.

“We’ve been slowly building up,” she said. “We’ve been winning sets. We went five sets in one game. All we needed was that one win. And I think this one win can set a precedent for the rest of our season. And we know we can do it. We are able to accomplish it and we can do it in the future. And I believe we will get more wins in the future, definitely.”