QUICKSBURG — Mountain View’s volleyball team was missing four players due to illness and injury, but the General’s effort on Tuesday night was still enough to frustrate a Luray Bulldogs team that finished second in the state last year.
The Generals lost in straight sets 25-15, 25-17, 25-21, but after the match, Bulldogs coach Susan Henry-Wilson admitted she wasn’t happy with her team’s performance.
“We did not play well. I’m not happy with the way we played,” she said. “We’re a much better team than what we showed out there this evening.”
One of the things Henry-Wilson said her team didn’t handle well were the surprise points from Mountain View. For the past few seasons the Generals, even in games where they appear to be outmatched, have shown the grit to fight for every single point. They don’t give up on balls that appear out of reach, and the effort doesn’t let up when the other team takes the lead.
“We’re a pretty scrappy team,” Generals’ coach Wendy Poole explained. “As much as I want to be more offensive, I think this year we will live and die as a defensive team. We play hard.”
The scrappy style was evident throughout all three sets. Despite missing Lilly Blank, who is important to the Generals front-line defense since she often leads the team in blocks, Mountain View recorded 16 blocks against the Bulldogs. Junior Annika Dellinger posted 10 of those. Breanna Franklin, another junior, added 5 of her own.
“I’m just really proud of our effort tonight,” Poole said after the game. “We’re always going to fight.”
That’s exactly what the Generals showed as they tried to stop the offensive power of the Bulldogs. Junior Jaidyn McClung led all players with 16 kills. Junior Lindsay Bly posted 9 kills, 5 aces, and 4 blocks and senior Lexie Vile added 6 kills and 3 blocks. Many of those kills were set up by another senior, Trinity Belton. Belton finished the game with an astounding 34 assists.
By comparison, Mountain Views top setter, Hannah Whitaker, posted 10 assists. The primary offensive weapons for the Generals were Dellinger, who had 10 kills, and Franklin, who had 5.
Mountain View also relied on some unfamiliar faces in the loss, since they were playing short-handed. Poole admitted she only found out the day before the game that two of the four girls who were missing wouldn’t be able to play. Three girls stepped in to fill those shoes on short notice: Whitaker, Sydney Hulver, and Maddison Hoover.
All three either played more than they usually do or found themselves playing away from their natural positions. Whitaker, for example, usually doesn’t play the full rotation, but was asked to do that against the Bulldogs. Hoover, however, may have been asked to step into the most unfamiliar role.
Poole pointed out that last year she often sat on the bench for the duration of the varsity games. Even this year the Generals have had contests where Hoover didn’t see the floor. In the third set, the one the Generals kept the closest, Hoover played almost the entire time.
“She went in and played really well all the way around,” Poole explained.
Poole said that shows something about Hoover’s character. She’s consistent in practice, and hasn’t complained about lack of playing time. Poole admitted other players’ in Hoover’s position may not have continued to play volleyball. Hoover stuck it out, and made the most of her opportunities Tuesday night.
She may be called upon again Thursday, when the Generals travel to Madison. Poole doesn’t expect to be back to full strength by the time that road contest comes up on the schedule.