TA Gets Fort
Top Seed Advances In Valley District Semifinals
Posted: November 2, 2012
Spotswood’s Alyse High spikes the ball over Fort Defiance’s Savannah Wilson in Thursday’s semifinal match. (Photo by Stephen Mitchell / DN-R)
TA senior Abigail cleaver (left) plays the ball over Waynesboro's Molly Trujillo in the semifinals Thursday.
Linn, a reserve senior outside hitter, had 11 kills – close to her season high – as the top-seeded Knights swept No. 4 seed Waynesboro 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 26-24) in a Valley District volleyball tournament semifinal Friday at Harrisonburg High.
“With everything going on, I was really frustrated,” said Linn, who, along with many Knights, wore black and red headbands in honor of TA students Jackson Reel and Cyndal Ward, who perished in a car crash Tuesday. “And then I was like, ‘I don’t want another game of frustration.’ … I guess I changed my mentality.”
TA (20-2) will meet No. 3 seed Fort Defiance in the final at 1 p.m. Saturday at HHS. The Indians swept No. 2 Spotswood in the second semifinal.
Turner Ashby also got a match-high 12 kills from senior outside hitter Miriam Karunakaran, 29 assists from senior setter Emily Shickel and 23 digs from junior libero Marissa Collier. But the kill total from Linn was the most atypical.
“She [Linn] struggled yesterday, and I told her, ‘If you have a bad practice, sometimes that turns into a great game,’ and that’s exactly what happened for her tonight,” TA coach Gina Troyer said. “She really needed that.”
After TA dominated the Little Giants (10-6) in Game 1 – which included six kills from Linn – it buried itself in deficits in the second two frames. The Knights trailed 13-8 in the second before taking its first lead at 19-18; then in the third, they went down 14-7, and later faced three set points trailing 24-21.
But TA won the next five points, including a match-winning kill from Shickel.
“We had it,” Waynesboro coach Lori Aleshire said of Games 2 and 3. “But we just let them back in it.”
After getting beaten twice by Spotswood in the regular season, Fort coach Sue Leonard admitted that she had her doubts about her defending Valley champions even returning to the tournament final.
The Indians, though, returned the favor, downing the Blazers 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-23) behind senior outside hitter Megan Good’s 24 kills and 26 digs to advance to the tournament final and secure an automatic bid to the Region III tournament.
“We just played better tonight,” Leonard said.
The win sets up a rematch of last year’s final, which Fort won in five games, and also pits the Knights against the only Valley team that’s beaten them this year. The two teams split their meetings this year, with each winning at the other’s gym.
“TA’s a tough, tough team to play,” Leonard said. “…They’re beatable because we beat ’em once. We’ve got to raise our game.”
The Blazers (10-8) had also been a tough out in making a surprising run to a runner-up finish in the Valley regular-season standings. They had won their last five sets against Fort (10-7) – all three in their last meeting at home a week earlier, and the final two of a 3-2 comeback win at Fort on Oct. 2.
But Spotswood’s biggest lead all match Thursday was three points, including 15-12 in Game 3. The Indians, though, won the next five points and never trailed from there.
“I’m just kind of frustrated, and I think everybody’s kind of frustrated,” SHS senior outside hitter Baily Williams said. “I don’t know. I just don’t think we were focused enough.”
Led by senior middle hitter Alyse High’s 10 kills and 5½ blocks, SHS threatened late by closing a 24-21 lead to 24-23.
But after a Leonard timeout, the Indians finished the match on a kill from junior Devon Byrd, who scored Fort’s last two points with two of her match-total three kills.
“Our passing was bad tonight,” SHS coach Jim Roth said. “…I think they were in shock of why they were playing so bad.”
Spotswood will play Waynesboro at 11 a.m. Saturday at HHS in a consolation match to determine the Valley District’s third and final bid to regionals.