Madison volleyball rallies to stun Eagles
BERRYVILLE — With first place in the Bull Run District on the line, the Clarke County volleyball team blew a 2-0 lead in sets to fall to Madison County Thursday 3-2 (18-25, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19, 21-19).
Despite the loss, the Eagle (10-6, 8-2) and Mountaineer (14-3, 9-1) fans saw one of the most exciting volleyball matches of the season, featuring, at times, brilliant play, and dramatic momentum swings.
“That was an amazing match, but a very hard comeback for us,” Mountaineer coach Lindsay Von Herbulis said. “This is one of the hardest gyms to win in. To come in here and get this win the way we did is a huge confidence builder for this team.”
The loss, though, was as devastating to Clarke County as it was unexpected by Madison County.
“I thought that in the third and fourth set we played to not lose instead of playing to win,” Eagle coach Mary Brune said. “They started blocking us a lot better than we were blocking them. We’ll recover from this though. They’re a good team.”
The first two sets looked as though the match was going to be an Eagle blowout. After trailing 5-1 early in the opening set, Clarke County, led by Ammie Levi and Sydney Chrane, came roaring back to tie the score at 7-7. It remained close until Eagles put together a 5-0 run late in the set to take the win.
The Mountaineers didn’t help their own cause, giving Clarke County four of those late points by touching the net and palming the ball. Levi and Chrane, however, were the real difference. Levi scored on three kills and a block and Chrane scored on three kills to lead the Eagles.
The second set was a replay of the first one except for the early Madison County lead. Leading 8-7, Clarke County rattled off a 6-1 run that left the Mountaineers trailing 14-8, and the Eagles never looked back, turning the momentum they had gained into another 8-1 run to finish the second set.
This time two other Clarke County players made important offensive contributions. Isabella Eyles had three kills during the second set and Jacquelyn Tredway scored on three kills and an ace. Levi, however, was again the dominant player during the set, scoring on four kills, a block, and an ace.
Then, without any warning or explanation, Clarke County’s dominance ended.
Despite trailing 8-3 early in the third set, a pair of newcomers to the Mountaineer rotation put their team on their backs and led them to a dramatic come-from-behind win.
Madison County hitter Kaitlyn Sorrell, who hadn’t played in the first two sets, hammered home six kills for the Mountaineers in the third set. Teammate Samantha Atwell, who had managed just one block in the first two sets, also scored on six kills in the third set.
The emergence of Sorrell and Atwell gave Madison County the boost it needed to slowly, but steadily, get back into the set and take the lead late. Leading 21-10, Atwell hammered home a kill and Clarke County palmed the ball on the next exchange to give the Mountaineers a 23-21 lead. A kill by Sorrell and another palmed ball by the Eagles gave Madison County the win and new life.
“I totally changed our lineup after the first two sets,” Von Herbulis said. “We needed to shake things up and try to get some consistency. We needed to stop over-subbing, and try to put a solid group out there the whole time.”
With the momentum firmly with the Mountaineers, they dominated Clarke County in the fourth set to force a tie-breaking fifth set. Jumping ahead 5-3 thanks to two blocks by Logan Coates, the Mountaineers never trailed in the fourth set. Atwell got the set-winning point with a kill.
“Sorrell was a starter early in the season but seemed to just get played out as the season progressed,” Von Herbulis said. “She wanted her chance, so I gave it to her and she really came through for us.”
With the match tied and first place on the line, Chrane gave the Eagles a big boost in the fifth set by scoring three aces during the first five exchanges to put Clarke County up 5-0.
But with the Eagles in control Madison County staged another dramatic comeback. A block and a kill by Sheridan Santinga, a kill and ace by Atwell, and a kill by Chandler Gentry gave the Mountaineers a surprising 6-5 lead.
That was only the beginning of a seesaw battle that wasn’t decided until the 40th exchange.
Both teams reached match-point three times only to fall short. With the set tied 19-19, Gentry scored on a kill to give Madison County its fourth opportunity to end the match. This time a serve by Gentry confused the Eagle defense and the ball hit the floor, giving Madison County the set and match-winner.