Handley volleyball sweeps Warriors
WINCHESTER — Senior Night can definitely be emotional. It can even be distracting, but you never would have known it with the way the Handley volleyball team got off to good starts in each set on Tuesday in a Northwestern District match with Sherando.
It wasn’t the final time that Handley’s five seniors — Dierdre Carter, Alex Barnett, Lisa Meneau, Alison Snow, and Anna Robinson — will play on their home court, due to the Judges hosting the district tournament next week.
But basking in all the pre-match recognition, as parents stood with them, the Judges “Fab Five” wanted to make an impression and do their part to keep on the heels of district leader James Wood.
Handley took care of business, topping Sherando 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-13).
“I’m very excited,” Carter said. “We came out like we [knew] we would, got out to a 9-1 lead [in the first set] and took it to them. We’ve been practicing hard and it showed in the [match].”
As usual, Carter (17 kills) was at the center of the attack. She had a match-best 18 kills, including seven in the first set.
The Judges (13-4, 6-1 Northwestern) had 46 kills in the match (Sherando, which played without one of its best hitters, senior Jessica Henry, for an extended time due to an injury in the first set, managed just 18 kills) and played sensational on defense when the Warriors (10-8, 4-4) did bring an attack.
Carter and junior Anna Ribeiro each had 15 digs in the win, and Snow (match-best 21 assists) added 12.
“I think, kind of tonight, both our defense and our offense came to play, and it definitely showed in the score,” Handley coach Lindsay Hazelette said. “It was playing for pride with ourselves and playing for the seniors out on the court and kind of setting the tone.”
Now the Judges get another shot at first-place James Wood, which beat Handley on Oct. 9 in five sets to take hold of the early lead within the district. A Judges’ win on Thursday would force a playoff for the regular season title.
To make playing for a chance at the district title a possibility, the Judges had to start fast in each set against the Warriors.
Handley got out to a 9-1 lead and forced Sherando coach Chuck Ashby to call a rare early timeout. In each set, nearly midway through, Handley held a 12-5 lead.
Only once, in the first set, was Sherando able to rally back and make a good run at pushing the Judges.
“That’s what we were working for,” Carter said. “We knew we had to come out strong for this [match] and show our intensity here so we could come out strong for Thursday. We know it’s going to be a tough match that night.
“That’s what we have to do every [set], and that’s come out with the lead. Usually, you end up taking it because you’re the stronger team.”
Sherando tried to compete the best it could, but its chances were hindered somewhat when Henry and fellow senior Cassie Slater collided during a rally with Handley ahead 19-12 in the first set.
Slater and Henry became tangled, but Slater got to her feet after a few moments. Henry stayed on the court a bit longer and eventually came off on her own power.
As a precaution, Ashby held Henry out until she entered late in the third set.
Because she was on the court for live action so little, Henry, who Ashby said took an accidental kick in the back from Slater as they fell to the floor, was limited to three kills and two total blocks.
Senior Ryan Magalis and junior Alaina Combs each had four kills to lead the Warriors.
“We just couldn’t get a rhythm,” Ashby said.
Handley had plenty of dominant runs.
Sherando closed to 20-15 in the first set before a combined block by Semefa Tettegah and Rachel Dodson, a kill by Ribeiro, and a solo block by Barnett carried Handley through to win the set.
A dominant service run by Snow highlighted a lopsided end to the second set. Sherando was down just 12-7 after a Magalis kill, but Barnett got a kill to return sideout and Snow served the next nine points for a 22-7 lead.
When she got sets to execute off of, Ribeiro, crashed for three late kills in the second set. Ribeiro (12 kills in the match) and Carter each had five kills in the clinching set, and Handley closed with a 13-5 run to gain its sweep.
Meneau (eight kills, two total blocks) had one of her better matches of the season, and junior Allie Hoffman (11 assists, two aces ) was clutch off the bench.
“We feel like Dierdre played a much better match than she did last time, and that might have been due to senior night,” Ashby said. “That makes a big difference.
“When you have a couple of your key players [go out after the collision between Henry and Slater], your not sure if they’re coming back and it goes through my mind ‘Where are my substitutes?’
“But I don’t want to take anything away from Handley because it played a great match. They had a balanced attack the first time and a balanced attack this time. Their defense was on, too.”
The Warriors close out their season with a rare non-district doubleheader at home on Thursday, taking on West Virginia power Musselman at 4 p.m. then playing regional rival Liberty at 7 p.m.
The Warriors will face either Handley or James Wood next Tuesday in a district semifinal at Handley.