GREENSVILLE — The Riverheads Gladiators handed Wilson its first volleyball loss of the season, defeating the Hornets in four sets 25-23, 16-25, 25-21, 26-24 Thursday night in Shenandoah District action.
In each of the three sets it won, Riverheads jumped out to big leads and then held off furious Wilson rallies before closing out each set.
“Three times we had big leads and we let them back in the set all three times,” said Riverheads head coach Nyssa Stapleton. “The girls found a way to finish the sets, but we’ve got to do a better job of putting teams away when we have a big lead.”
In the opening set Riverheads erased a 6-4 deficit with five straight points. A block by Lauren Reese, a kill by Dayton Moore and an ace from Abbey Eavers sparked the hosts to a 9-6 lead.
After Wilson pulled even at 10-10, Riverheads went on a 7-1 spurt to open a six-point lead. Two service aces by Samantha Persinger gave Riverheads a 17-11 advantage.
Wilson clawed back and eventually pulled to within a point, 22-21 on a kill by Sarah Johnston. A hitting error gave Riverheads a point before a kill by Olivia Bower and an ace from Allison Sykes pulled Wilson even a 23-23.
Sydney Phillips’ kill gave Riverheads set point and a bad pass by the Hornets accounted for the final point as Riverheads took the first set 25-23.
Wilson led 9-4 in the second set before Riverheads rallied with five straight points. Two kills and a block by Eavers along with a kill by Phillips pulled the Gladiators even at 9-9.
Riverheads inched ahead 12-11 before the Hornets took control. Three kills by Cassidy Davis and two aces by Carrie Garvey ignited a 6-0 run, giving Wilson a 17-11 lead.
After a kill by Reese, Wilson used two more kills from Davis during a 5-0 run, increasing the lead to 22-13. Brooke Cason’s block provided the final point as Wilson evened the match, winning the second set 25-16.
Riverheads used a 9-1 flurry to take a 20-10 lead in the third set. Kendyl Argenbright had two kills, a block and ace during the run as the Gladiators led by 10.
Wilson moved to within 20-14, but kills by Eavers and Phillips along with a Wilson error put Riverheads ahead 23-20.
The Hornets then fed Davis at the net and the senior delivered with four kills as Wilson moved to within 23-20. The teams traded errors before Eavers recorded a kill off a Wilson block attempt to close out the third set 25-21.
Riverheads jumped on the Hornets early in the fourth set, leading 13-5. Just like the third set, Riverheads opened a 10-point lead, 21-11.
A kill by Argenbright gave Riverheads a 22-13 edge before the Hornets mounted a frenetic comeback. A kill by Carlee Hatfield gave Wilson a side-out and then kills by Bower and Davis along with an ace from Garvey sliced the Riverheads lead to 22-18.
Phillips recorded a kill for Riverheads but a hitting error returned serve to the Hornets and two aces by Sykes trimmed the margin to 23-21. Davis put down a kill and Sykes made a diving save along the sideline and sent the ball over the net into open space for a point to tie the score at 23-23.
A Wilson service error gave Riverheads a one-point lead, but another kill by Davis tied the score at 24-24.
A ballhandling error against the Hornets another set point and this time Eavers ended the match with a kill from the middle off a Wilson block for the final point in the 26-24 fourth-set victory,
“I called a timeout down the stretch and told the girls it was going to come down to who wanted to win the most,” said Stapleton. “We got the ball to Abbey and she made a smart decision on the final point.”
Moore led the winners with 30 assists while Eavers had a team-high 11 kills to go along with 11 digs and four blocks. Argenbright had a good all-around game with 10 digs, six kills and four blocks. Davis paced the Hornets at the net with 16 kills.