Madison throttles Central in three

WOODSTOCK – Long the dominating volleyball power in the Bull Run District, Madison County has taken a step back this year.

But, if the last three matches mean anything, the Mountaineers may be on their way back.

A straight three sets’ (25-18, 25-18, 25-16) victory over winless Central on Thursday night was the Mountaineers’ third straight of the season to even their district mark at 4-4, 7-7 overall. Along with being a league game, this also drew together competitors in Conference 35.

Meanwhile, the homestanding Falcons (0-7, 0-12) continue to look for their first victory of the year.

“There were some encouraging things out there,” said Central’s Savannah Gochenour. “Usually, we start out well, but then something happens, and we lose confidence. Tonight we fought on more points.”

Gochenour, a 5-foot-10 senior, spread 13 kills throughout the three games, but it was not enough as Madison’s Alex Waga collected 11 kills, 4 blocks and two aces. The Mountaineer senior was supported by junior Jeana Kelliher (8 kills).

“I guess at the beginning of the year nobody knew how good we were going to be because we were so young,” said Waga. “But in the last three games we’ve talked a lot more and become more aggressive.”

“We’ve been working on being more aggressive to the ball,” Madison coach Carrie Brown said, “and we did a pretty good job of that.”

Brown said last year’s team – the fourth in a row to claim the league championship – graduated seven seniors, five of whom were starters. This season, she is using five freshmen, three of whom start.

“In that way, it’s almost like we’re starting over again,” said the coach.

It hardly appeared that way at Jerry Walters Court.

Central led on just three occasions throughout the three sets: 15-14 and 18-17 in the first game and 1-0 in the deciding third. From there, it was all Mountaineers.

Gochenour, Coach Christy Barb and the Falcons met for a lengthy session in their locker room after the match, and the senior, at least, sees good things on the horizon.

“I think we’re going to come out in the next few games and get this started the other way,” she said.

The Falcons are winless this year, and took just one match a year ago.

Central fell behind 4-0 in the first set and trailed by five points on two occasions, but fought back to go ahead 15-14 for the Falcons’ first lead of the night.

After two ties, the Falcons found themselves on top 18-17 for only the second time of the night. But the Mountaineers scored the final eight points of the set.

Central trailed 6-0 in the second set and although it fought to a 9-7 disadvantage, Madison expanded its lead to 14-8 when Barb called a timeout.

The Falcons got within 17-14 of the visitors, but the Mountaineers scored four of the next five points for a commanding 21-15 advantage.

After Central took its 1-0 lead to start the third set, Madison County returned to go ahead 7-2 on a kill by Kelliher. Ahead 8-5, the Mountaineers scored five straight points for the commanding 13-5 advantage.

“We’re talking a lot more and we’re not letting the balls just drop in front of us. That was a problem earlier in the season,” said Waga.