Applemen sweep James Wood volleyball
WINCHESTER — Both James Wood and Musselman (W.Va.) brought home volleyball titles in their respective divisions last Saturday at the Third Degree Tournament of Champions at Virginia Beach.
On Thursday night, the Colonels and Applemen renewed what’s become an annual non-district matchup for the two teams.
The Applemen, who won the open division at the Third Degree Tournament, have never lost to the Colonels and junior Taylor Lord and senior Megan Raney made sure that trend continued for Musselman.
Lord and Raney combined for 34 kills, leading Musselman to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18 and 25-19) sweep over James Wood at Donald H. Shirley Gymnasium.
“We gave them a lot of points on a lot of errors for sure,” said Musselman coach Shawn Martz. “We definitely weren’t very sharp but it’s still nice to get a win when you’re not playing well against a quality opponent.”
The Applemen (7-1) never trailed in three competitive games against the Colonels, who saw their six-match winning streak come to an end.
James Wood (8-2) took advantage of several hitting errors by Musselman to tie the opening set at 18 after a pass by the Applemen took a weird bounce off the gymnasium rafters.
But Lord responded with a kill and James Wood junior Ally Iden sent a shot just over the back line to give Musselman a 20-18 lead. The Applemen held the two-point advantage until Kelsey Bageant’s service error on set point No. 1 pulled the Colonels to within 24-22.
Junior Lindsey Painter cut the lead to one with a kill, forcing a Musselman timeout. On the third set point, the Applemen clinched the set after a net violation on Wood.
“We weren’t very efficient tonight offensively,” Martz said. “In the first set we gave them 12 points on either hitting errors or service errors.”
Musselman never trailed in the second set, building its largest lead after an ace by Rebecca Kern stretched the Applemen advantage to 14-6. James Wood never cut the deficit to less than four the rest of the way, and the Applemen closed out the second set with a block by Autumn Bartles on Painter followed by a kill by Lord for a 25-18 win.
“From our standards we should have played a lot better,” said Lord, a first team All-Class AAA selection who finished with a .347 hitting percentage in the win. “Maybe it was our mistakes or maybe it was them forcing some mistakes, but we should have hit a lot better and served a lot better.
“James Wood has a really good defensive team and we’re always ready to play them. It’s nice to win when we’re not playing our best, but we know we have to play better.”
The Colonels, playing without junior outside hitter Katie Houser (who is out for the season), certainly had their chances to take the opening set as well as the third set.
James Wood had several chances to take its first lead of the match in the third set that featured five ties.
After junior Ashley Hillyard’s kill knotted the score at 14, a hitting error by the Colonels put Musselman back on top for good with a 3-0 spurt capped by a kill from Raney that staked the Applemen to a 17-14 lead and forced a Wood timeout.
Following the timeout and a Musselman service error, the Applemen reeled off three-straight points, getting kills from Raney, Lord and Bartles to take a 20-15 lead.
James Wood never cut the deficit to less than four, and Lord closed out the match, scoring the Applemen’s final three points with three straight kills.
James Wood had Iden (six kills) playing at outside hitter instead of her normal libero spot for the first two sets. Iden moved back to libero for the start of the third set.
“That’s what we won with when we were in Virginia Beach,” said Couturiaux of the Colonels’ lineup with Savannah Yost at libero and Iden at outside. “Ally is a very consistent player who makes very few errors and to fill the hole on the outside you want someone with consistency.”
Going against Musselman’s attack with Lord and Raney (10 kills, 259 hitting percentage), Couturiaux said the Applemen can put a lot of pressure on opposing teams.
“I think we definitely struggled a little bit with our passing and serve-receive tonight,” Couturiaux said. “Musselman is a very aggressive serving team and we knew that coming in, but I think we struggled in transition to get into a flow and rhythm tonight.”
Painter, who led the Colonels with a team-high 10 kills, said her team needs to put the loss (the Colonels’ first 3-0 defeat of the year) behind them with matches against Woodgrove and Briar Woods (who beat Wood 3-1 earlier this season) coming up in the next two weeks.
“We just struggled with serve-receive and our passing,” Painter said. “I know I struggled tonight. I just think it wasn’t clicking tonight.
“We’re definitely going to learn from it. Every time it’s a close game and you lose — you learn from it. Musselman’s a great team and they always have been. It was a tough game.”
Hillyard led the Colonels with a team-best 17 assists and seven digs.
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