Two of the top volleyball teams in the area squared off in the River City Tuesday with bragging rights and momentum on the line. Robert E. Lee entered at 7-1, while Waynesboro was 6-1. It was a clash of two teams looking to contend for a championship.
In a heated contest with plenty of emotion, powerful kills and intense close calls, Lady Giants star Logan Graves made sure it ended in favor of the home team.
The senior recorded 30 kills to go with 17 digs as Waynesboro dramatically edged the Lady Leemen 3-2 in five games.
“They just had a lot of courage and just a lot of heart to stick with it as long as they did,” said Lady Giants coach Lori Aleshire, whose team is on a three-game winning streak. “[Graves] was on fire. She came out and put it down. They couldn't stop her.”
The visitors jumped out to a 7-2 lead and looked like the unstoppable force in game one as Waynesboro had trouble keeping the ball in play, but the hosts were able to go on a 6-0 run to take an 8-7 advantage, led by Graves’ powerful performance.
After getting the lead, Aleshire's team couldn't keep it going as Lee’s 13-4 run put game one seemingly out of reach at 20-12. The Lady Leemen went on to win it 25-23, holding off a rally by their rivals.
The Lady Giants really struggled with simple, routine plays early. Execution was just off, but not in the second game, taking it 25-19.
Just when it looked like the hosts were ready to take control an error-plagued game three put Lee just one win away from a potential road victory. The Staunton squad jumped out to an 18-12 advantage and won game two 25-18 with senior Alicia Gleaves (16 kills) putting on a show for the 2-1 lead.
“We were shaky,” Waynesboro senior Julia Lucas said. “I think we underestimated them a little bit.”
The Lady Giants needed to respond with their backs against the wall. They took game four 25-18 after rallying to tie it at 14-14.
It all came down to the decisive fifth set. Lee jumped out to a 3-0 cushion before Graves pulled her team level at 8-8 and was key in winning it 15-12 as her ferocious kills set the tone.
“It was insane,” Lucas said. “Logan Graves absolutely killed it. She boosted our team when we were down. She is definitely one of our leaders on the court. We look up to her.”
Sarah Manor and Madelin Bender, who were both clutch, had 11 kills for Waynesboro. Lucas had 21 digs, and Abbey Lee had 39 assists.
For the Lady Leemen, Jasmine Johnson had 37 assists and 20 digs. Regan Cook had 14 kills and 19 digs, while Maria Williams recorded 12 kills.
Next, Lee (7-2) hosts Eastern Mennonite on Thursday.
“They started pounding the ball and we weren't able to get a block up to stop them,” coach Jan Williams said.
“We've got a lot of [things] to work out. We have some weak spots we are trying to fix. As long as we keep getting better, I’m happy with that.”
Waynesboro (7-1) travels to Fort Defiance the same day.
Other scores around the area
Fort Defiance 3, Turner Ashby 0
Fort Defiance made quick work of Turner Ashby Tuesday, winning 3-0 on the road to remain perfect on the year.
Megan Good led the way with 27 kills, 21 digs and two blocks.
The Indians took game one 29-27 and game two 25-22 before comfortably completing the sweep with a 25-15 win in game three.
Savannah Wilson had six kills and 12 digs for FDHS. Erin Henderson registered 29 digs.
Carli Hill put up 35 assists, two service aces and one block in the win.
The Indians (9-0) return to the court on Thursday at home to Waynesboro.
Stuarts Draft 3, Stonewall Jackson 1
Stuarts Draft won its first game of the season on Tuesday with a 3-1 win over Stonewall (25-14, 26-28, 25-22, 25-19).
Abby Foster had four aces for the Lady Cougars, while Maddy Riley put up eight kills. Emily Hoy and Chelsea Davignon both recorded seven kills. Davignon also had 16 digs, and Molly Foster had 11 digs of her own.
Draft (1-3) returns to action on Thursday at home to Buffalo Gap.
Riverheads 3, Buffalo Gap 2
The Gladiators surrendered a 2-0 lead but managed to take game five and beat Buffalo Gap 3-2 (25-22, 25-14, 23-25, 18-25, 15-6).