FRONT ROYAL – Something coach Jeff Moxie said after his Randolph-Macon Academy Yellow Jacket volleyball team had lost its first set “woke up” stand-out Anastacia Chineme on Wednesday in the team’s 3-1 victory over Quantico High School at Melton Memorial Gymnasium.
“When Coach told us to ‘wake up’ after the first game, it hit me. We had started exactly the same on (Tuesday in a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Foxcroft) and we didn’t want to go through that again,” said Chineme, a boarding student from New Jersey.
“It wasn’t really one thing or one timeout, but after the first game, we woke up a little bit. We got on track after that,” said Moxie, whose team improved to 2-2.
Indeed, the Jackets lost the first set 25-19, but from that point they dropped the visiting Warriors (4-4) in three straight sets (25-20, 25-11 and 25-12).
There were eight ties and four lead changes in game one – won by Quantico, which scored the last three points.
From that game on, Randolph-Macon assumed early leads in the last three games and held on to win.
“Our serve-receive was much better than it was (Tuesday),” said Moxie. “There was more hustle, particularly from game two to game four. The communication was better. Sometimes I think they think too much.”
“Look at Lila (Ruch). She scored a kill and didn’t even smile,” said Moxie.
Actually Ruch, Chineme, Moxie and a boisterous crowd at R-MA’s on-campus varsity gym were all smiles when the match was over.
Ruch and Chineme finished leading the Yellow Jackets in kills, with seven apiece. Chineme contributed three aces, while Ruch had one.
It also happened to be the birthday of Julia Norton (three kills, two aces, one block), so the team took time to sing to her post-game and serve cupcakes.
“It was a good win for Julia too,” said Chineme. “That made it more special.”
After the six-point loss in game one, Randolph-Macon became more aggressive in game two.
It scored six straight points to break a 2-all tie. The score was 8-2 as Kimmie Pitts (eight total aces) kept firing one introduction pass after another at the suddenly hapless Warriors.
R-MA extended the bulge to 14-6 when Quantico had seemed to gather itself.
The Warriors ran off a half-dozen scores on their own, featuring two kills and an ace. The tally read Randolph-Macon 14, Quantico 12.
The Yellow Jackets stemmed the tide briefly by jumping back ahead by 4 on an unforced error on the Warriors and an ace by Kate Ponn (three kills, five assists, one block) put the Jackets ahead 16-12.
Then Quantico began narrowing the ledger. The Warriors got it to 17-16, Yellow Jackets, but again the hosts rebounded.
A Quantico ill-placed shot to the net, a kill by Ruch and an errant attempt by the Warriors went awry. Randolph-Macon led by 4.
The closest the Warriors would come was 21-19, but this time the Yellow Jackets would swipe 4 of the final 5 points of the game.
With things tied 1-1, R-MA scored 4 consecutive counters to go ahead 7-3 after a superbly played rally in game three. Chineme scored two aces and a kill along the way.
It was Quantico’s time to turn the momentum, if only for minutes. Trailing by 4, the Warriors scored three kills and an ace to tie.
But things quickly unraveled for the visitors.
After the 8-all knotting, the visitors seemed to lose focus.
Randolph-Macon scored 5 consecutive tallies to open up a 13-8 advantage.
Quantico would never come closer in game three. R-MA scored 17 of the game’s final 20 points.
In the deciding fourth game Pitts scored five aces as her Yellow Jackets assumed a 9-3 lead.
The spread ran to 13 points in favor of Randolph-Macon, before the Yellow Jackets closed out the Warriors 25-12.
“We lost a setter and a libero from last year and we’re in the process of moving some people in there. We’ve got a long way to go,” said Moxie.