Skyline volleyball sweeps Pioneers
Posted: October 10, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
FRONT ROYAL — Perhaps their confidence was up already, knowing that Tuesday night’s opponent also came in without a district win.
Perhaps it was a matter of time, almost two years since they last won within the Northwestern District, that a positive result was in store.
Whatever the case, the Skyline volleyball team was ready to end a 13-match losing streak within the Northwestern and get out of a share of last place.
The Hawks dug Millbrook attacks at a high rate, keeping the ball in play and allowing setters to place the ball to hitters to provide a more consistent attack of their own.
In the end, Skyline knew how to finish and gained a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-22) sweep over Millbrook to win a district match for the first time since Oct. 28, 2010. That win also came against the Pioneers.
“It’s definitely different from last year — coming [away] with a district win,” said junior setter Lauren Moore. “It means a lot more, because we’re going to try to push and beat other teams in the district and hopefully come out in the top three this year.”
The Pioneers (3-12, 0-4 in the Northwestern) had snapped a 10-match losing streak with a four-set non-district win over Martinsburg (W.Va.) last Thursday, but Millbrook had trouble much of Tuesday’s match providing consistency with the attack and could not get Skyline back on its heels with serve-receive.
The Pioneers had 10 attack errors in a close first-set loss, and Millbrook’s service game provided just three aces in three sets.
Millbrook did make a nice rally in the second set, fighting back from a late, nine-point deficit to get within one. But Skyline escaped that set and continued to play the entire court with energy in the third set to wrap up its win.
“I just think [my team] wasn’t focusing [Tuesday] and that’s something we need to work on,” Millbrook coach Ashley Sutphin said. “If we need to go back to the fundamentals, then we will.”
A tight, three-set loss to third-place Sherando last week (two of the sets went extra points) proved to Skyline (7-5, 1-3) that it was capable of contesting sets until the end. Getting over the hump in the first set was crucial to the Hawks’ chances against Millbrook, Moore said.
“When we first started playing, we would play really well in the first set, but then we would let our emotions down in the second and third,” said Moore, who had two kills and team-bests of three total blocks, 14 assists, and four aces in the win. “[Tuesday] we just wanted to make history because we hadn’t had a district win in two years.”
The Hawks, led by junior libero Megan Reinhardt, showed they were ready to handle Millbrook’s attacks and took control of the match right away. In fact, Millbrook never could get the string of points it needed and did not have more than a two-point lead at any stage of the first set. That margin came after senior outside Courtney Adams, who had a match-best seven kills, deposited back-to-back kills for a 21-19 lead.
But after a Millbrook attack error, Skyline senior Brianna Lewis had a strong closing run to help her team pull out the set. She blitzed the Pioneers with three aces, and her kill on an attack from the back row provided the clinching point.
Skyline looked to cruise in the second set, rolling out to a 6-1 lead behind kills from Moore and sophomore middle Carrie Robinson. An ace by Moore had forced a Millbrook timeout, and Robinson added a kill on the next exchange for a six-point lead.
A couple of solo blocks by sophomore middle Ashley Humphrey kept the Pioneers close for a while, but Skyline received kills from juniors Courtney Kidd and Jenny Norman, and another from Moore to keep building on its lead. A kill to the middle by Norman off a free-ball, and another Millbrook attack error allowed the Hawks to move out to an 18-9 lead.
At this stage, the Pioneers had collected just three kills in the set and were looking for answers.
“[Skyline] did a great job of picking everything up,” Sutphin said. “There wasn’t anything that we were giving them that they couldn’t hustle and get there.”
A kill by freshman outside Taylor Linder gave serve back to Millbrook, and the Pioneers worked themselves back when the Hawks went into a little rut. Millbrook had its best run of the match, rolling off 12 points in 16 exchanges to trail just 22-21 and force Skyline to use a timeout. Junior opposite Holly Stevens provided the point that left Millbrook down just one, winning a tip on the near-side.
But the Pioneers could not score again. An attack error forced sideout, Skyline senior outside Sarah Beamer got her first kill of the match with a soft hit to the front line that fell, and an errant set forced Humphrey into the net for an attack violation to provide Skyline a two-set lead.
“As a team, we play up and down, and it’s kind of a rollercoaster for them,” Sutphin said. “We need to learn how to keep consistent and stay up the whole time.”
Things stayed close through the early stages of the third set. The Hawks began to gain some distance with Moore and Norman combining for a block, senior outside Katara Edwards finding a hole on the back row for a kill, and Moore providing another ace for a 14-9 lead.
Adams kept Millbrook close by getting three kills in the set, but the Pioneers never could get over the hump. A kill by Stevens cut Skyline's lead to three late, and an over-the-net violation by Norman off her attack made it 23-21. Beamer, who collected five of her team-best six kills in the third set, got a kill to bring match-point, but Adams and senior middle Brittany Whitacre combined for a block to keep Millbrook alive.
It all ended on the next exchange when Humphrey was called for a lift on her attack, Millbrook’s 21st attack error of the match.
For Millbrook, Whitacre totaled four kills and two shared blocks, Linder had five kills and two total blocks, junior setter Brooke Russell had a match-best 17 assists to go with two aces, and Humphrey had three kills and a match-best four total blocks.