SVCA volleyball falls to Lions

Posted: October 10, 2012

Special to The Winchester Star

SVCA sophomore Krista Freemire smacks a kill past a Lions defender during the Patriots’ 25-14, 25-12, 25-19 loss. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy senior setter Kayla Freemire goes up for a kill during the Patriots’ three-game sweep at the hands of Leesburg. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

STEPHENS CITY — All season the Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy volleyball team has been enjoying a magical, dominating season. A season that through 16 matches had seen them lose just one match and a total of only five games all year.

In fact the Patriots had been so dominating they were having a very hard time finding anyone that could beat them in any way, shape, or form.

That is until Tuesday afternoon in their home match against Leesburg Christian.

In the first game of the match the Patriots finally found a team that could beat them — and that was themselves. After that the Lady Lions roared and the result was a shocking 3-0 (25-14, 25-12, 25-19) defeat for the Patriots that snapped their 13-match winning streak.

SVCA (15-2) committed 13 unforced errors in game one alone and 34 for the match, an average of more then 10 a game.

“Not our best game of the year,” said SVCA coach Ellie Wheelock. “For some reason we’ve just been playing down. All around we haven’t been playing very well, communication has just broken down so we’re just trying to figure out how we can get it back.

“We’ve been struggling with our serves, making too many errors and not moving our feet. Our serve receive was kind of hurting us there for a while.”

From the outset of game one it was evident that the Patriots at the very least were going to have their hands full and then some. Leesburg jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and SVCA struggled to get its offense on track throughout the match.

The Patriots did rally and were able to finally tie the game at 8-8 on a kill by Carol Bartholmew. It was the first of five ties in game one as the two teams exchanged points back and forth until it was 12-12.

From there the Lady Lions took control. Leesburg ran off the next eight points of the game, forcing the Patriots to burn both of their timeouts and grabbing a comfortable 20-12 advantage. The Patriots couldn’t recover and the Lions closed game one on an impressive 13-2 run to grab a 1-0 lead in the match.

Each of the three games were similar in the fact that they were all close to a certain point before Leesburg went on a sizeable run to put some distance in between the two teams before closing out each game and eventually the match.

Leesburg’s game two run came much earlier, though. Over the first four points the two teams battled back and forth, exchanging points. Game two was tied four times, the last being at 4-4, before the Lions did it again. This time they used a seven-point burst to open up an 11-4 lead.

SVCA tried to come back, but the closest it was able to get was 12-6. Before the Patriots really knew what hit them they found themselves down 21-7 and facing a 2-0 hole and a tough uphill battle.

The Patriots scored two straight to close to within 21-9, but the lead was just too overwhelming and Leesburg was able to close out game two 25-12, setting the stage for the three-game sweep.

“I think now, for some reason, some of the players are starting to question what they’re doing,” Wheelock said. “They’re not sure if they should be hitting a certain way and things like that. I think they’re trying to think too much out there.”

Game three was much more competitive and at times looked as though the Patriots were going to be able to prolong the match, even leading the game by a couple late, but again it was another Lions’ rally that closed out the match.

The Patriots again found themselves trailing in the third game but were able to rally back on a couple different occasions. Early on they were down 7-4, but a three-point rally by SVCA tied it up at 7-7. Shortly after that they found themselves down 11-8 but again were able to battle back, this time to tie it up at 12-12. It was the fourth tie of the third game.

Following two more ties at 14-14 and 15-15, the Patriots were finally able to break out on top with two straight points, taking a 17-15 lead and looking like a game four might be in their future.

However, the Lions came storming back. The game would be tied twice more, for a total of eight times in game three alone, the last being at 18-18.

From there Leesburg was able to finish out the match by outscoring the Patriots 7-1 for the sweep, the first time SVCA has been swept all season long.

“Hopefully we’re getting our losses out of the way now and hopefully we can learn from them now before we get to our regional tournament next week,” Wheelock said.