It had been building for quite a while. On Thursday night, it finally happened as the Waynesboro High School volleyball team defeated neighboring Stuarts Draft in straight sets, gaining their first win of the young season.
“This was definitely a confidence builder,” said Waynesboro head coach Lori Aleshire. “This is what we see in practice every day, the potential is there.”
The Little Giants dominated the match, winning 25-21, 25-17 and 25-9, getting stronger in each set.
“It’s exciting to see the joy in their faces,” Aleshire said. “Tonight, we were just playing volleyball.”
The Cougars entered the match as one of the hottest teams in the area, and although Waynesboro had suffered losses to strong teams like Fort Defiance and Wilson Memorial, the Draft girls had been on an early-season roll.
But Waynesboro, behind the strong hitting of senior Jada Keene and the steadying hand of libero Paige Smith, grabbed an early 3-2 lead on an ace serve from junior Ciera Bruce and never trailed again for the entire match.
Late in the first set, the Cougars hung around to get within striking distance at 23-20, but unlike in previous matches where Waynesboro had not been able to close out the set, the Little Giants held off the rally as senior Logan O’Neil gained the 24th point on a kill and WHS held on to take the first set.
The Little Giants got off to a hot start in the second set, getting out to an 8-3 lead and forcing a Cougar time-out.
From there Waynesboro distanced itself from the stunned Cougars, taking a 21-10 lead on back-to-back aces from Smith.
Again the Little Giants prevented the visitors from regaining the momentum and closed out the set.
In the third set Waynesboro ran out to an 8-0 start and the Draft never recovered.
The Little Giants were focused and did a good job of scrambling on defense and were accurate on setting up their hitters in the front line.
“Everybody did their part,” Aleshire said. “Now, we need to keep this going against Riverheads (Monday at Riverheads).”
Smith served five aces, with 26 digs on defense, while Keene had a strong all-around night with 16 kills, three aces and nine digs. Bruce assisted on 21 points as the main setter and also contributed 10 digs.
“It was crazy tonight,” Keene said. “It feels good to work hard and finish. It’s been so long coming.”
Waynesboro (1-5) will have the rematch in Stuarts Draft on Sept. 23, while the Cougars go to Luray for their next match on Monday.