The Western Albemarle volleyball team had lost just two Jefferson District matches heading into Thursday’s home showdown with Fluvanna County. One of those losses came against the Flucos.
The Warriors avenged last month’s defeat with an impressive 23-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-15 victory to move into a tie with the Fluvanna for second place in the district standings.
Caitlyn Driver had eight service points, seven kills and two blocks as Western Albemarle (13-9, 6-2 district) extended its winning streak to four matches.
Driver said the team spent this week watching tape of the previous match against Fluvanna and Coach Julie Radlinski devised a game plan to help the team find success.
“We knew the spots that we needed to hit, so we really focused on those spots and mixed it up a bit where the ball was going,” Driver said. “We also put up a really strong block, which I think helped because I felt we were able to run our offense [more efficiently] because they had to send a lot of free balls over.”
It was a back-and-forth battle for most of the first set, with both teams exchanging three-point leads at different spots. Fluvanna County trailed 23-20 before Khania Brassfield posted two of her three blocks in the set to key a 5-0 run and give the Flucos the first set, 25-23. McKenzie Moore added five points and three big kills as FCHS held the early lead.
Brassfield delivered four kills early on as Fluvanna County held a 17-16 lead in the second set.
That’s when the Warriors took over at the net.
Driver tallied two blocks and a kill to give her team a 20-18 lead. Amber Parker then went on a four-point run, including three aces, to give Western Albemarle a 25-19 win and even the match at 1-1.
Driver, a Christopher Newport commit, said the team made some minor adjustments between sets that really opened things up offensively.
“We really modified where we were hitting,” Driver said. “We’ve been practicing our fast sets this week to kind of speed up our offense. We were also focusing on our blocking and how to get them out of system and how to stay in system on our side.”
The third set was more of the same as Katie Carter and Driver continued to make plays at the net. Driver tallied three kills and Carter added a pair of blocks as Western Albemarle won 25-13 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Amber Parker added nine service points during the set as the Warriors seized the momentum.
The fourth set belonged to Sarah Rhea. The senior outside hitter posted four of her team-high eight kills in the set, including a pair of well-placed cross-court winners. She also added four service points, including a pair of aces.
Brooke Chavez added three more kills as the Warriors put the match away with a 25-15 win.
Setter Annabella Pandelli had 17 assists, 10 digs and four aces to lead Western Albemarle. Parker finished with 11 digs and six aces, while Carter finished with 4.6 blocks. Grace Boitnott finished with seven assists.
Brassfield had eight kills and three blocks to lead Fluvanna County. Moore finished with 10 points and four kills, while setter Faith Shields finished with six points and three kills.
With the playoffs just around the corner, Driver hopes Thursday’s win will serve as a motivator heading into postseason play.
“It’s really important for us," she said. “We want to keep winning games so we can do well in the playoffs. We’ve got a few big matches coming up. We’re hoping to win all the rest of our games, so we’ll have a nice high seed in the playoffs.”