RICHMOND — Jamestown will get its second crack in three seasons at a first state girls volleyball championship Saturday in the Group 4A final. James City County neighbor Warhill will represent its school in a first state championship match of any kind when it plays in the 3A final, also Saturday.
Jamestown booked passage to the 4A title match by sweeping James Wood of Winchester 25-9, 25-22, 25-23 on Friday in the semifinals at VCU’s Siegel Center. Warhill reached the 3A final with a 25-9, 25-16, 14-25, 25-22 win over Northside of Roanoke in the semis.
Now comes the hard part as Jamestown and Warhill attempt to bring home a first state volleyball title to the Bay Rivers District. Jamestown (28-1) will play Loudoun County (30-0) in the 4A state final at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Loudoun’s roster full of Division I prospects dispatched Grafton 25-13, 25-18, 25-11 Friday to stretch its winning streak to 48 matches going back to last season. Jamestown players and coaches understand the task awaiting them, but do not sound intimidated.
“We’re going to have to play our best match of the season to beat Loudoun County and we’re going to have to be fearless,” Jamestown coach Tom Stephenson said. “We’re going to have to go after them with everything we’ve got on every single play.
“We know the challenge before us. I would rather be playing on Saturday and have that challenge before me than not.”
Warhill’s opponent in the 3A final at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Siegel Center is Hidden Valley, a Roanoke school that beat Lafayette 25-16, 21-25, 26-24, 26-24 in the semifinals. While perhaps not as good as it was a year ago in pushing Loudoun County to five close sets in the 2012 final, Hidden Valley’s Titans (29-2) bring an edge in big-match experience.
“I can’t put into words how proud I am that we’ve played at the level we’ve been playing the past few weeks,” Warhill coach Greg Koon said.
Koon’s daughter, Alex Koon, was the star for the Lions with 14 kills and four blocks. Even so, the match was even at the net, and it was Warhill’s 13-7 advantage in aces that proved big.
“Really, our goal this year was to go all the way in the state tournament,” Alex Koon said. “We’re really proud of ourselves.”
A wide variety of contributions was key to Jamestown’s semifinal success. Four Eagles had six or more kills — Ellie Popelka (10), Saskia Beitzell (six), Maria Esch (six) and Tess Anderson (give) — more than all-state hitter Kelly Esch’s five.
Monique St. Cyr, who holds state records or is in the top five of several passing and serving categories, had 26 assists and two aces. She moved the ball around well, something she acknowledges will be a key against a Loudoun team that’s very tall and very talented.
“It’s going to be very important (to move the ball) because they are a little taller than us,” St. Cyr said. “For us to be a little faster will set the tone.”
It will help if the Eagles get the multitude of contributions they did in their semifinal. Popelka and Maria Esch had two of their best matches of the season.
“That was huge for two freshmen to play this way on this kind of stage,” Stephenson said. “I think both were very composed out there today.”
Hidden Valley edges Lafayette
After losing the first set handily, Lafayette rallied from a 19-17 deficit to win the second set 25-21 as Julia Howard served up three aces in four attempts. After Brooke Mitchell made a block and a kill in succession to close out Hidden Valley’s 26-24 third-set win, Lafayette appeared to lead 17-14 in the fourth set behind the hitting of Kiersten Langerud and Abby Oren.
But a penalty for an illegal substitution cost the Rams one point and gave the Titans two to tie the set at 16. That proved the difference as the Titans closed out the match with another 26-24 win, denying Lafayette a first appearance in the finals in 14 years.
“We came here to give them a competitive match and we did,” Rams coach Keith Nowadly said.
Loudoun County sweeps Grafton
Loudoun County used a front line standing 6-foot-3, 6-2 and 6-0 to dominate with blocks and kills at the net en route to its sixth state final appearance in the past seven seasons. The most telling stat was Loudoun’s 15-3 advantage in blocks, which supplemented an advantage of seven kills.
Kendall Mahony, a Division I prospect, had 10 kills for Grafton despite being double-teamed at the net much of the match. Christa Hall had 17 assists for the Clippers.
“They were big and we were small,” Grafton coach Karissa Cumberbatch said of Loudoun, which has four state titles in the past five seasons. “We played a great match the first two games but fell apart at the end.
“But I couldn’t be more pleased with my first season (at Grafton) and am excited for the future.”
GROUP 4A SEMIFINALS
Loudoun County d. Grafton 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-11). Standouts: Grafton, Williams (13 digs), Hall (17 assists), Mahony (10 kills); Loudoun Co., Slack (14 digs), Phillips (12 digs), Borup (9 kills) Feddersen (5 kills, 5 blocks). Records: Grafton 21-7; Loudoun Co. 30-0.
- Video: State Semi-Final Volleyball
- Video: Grafton gets ready for its state semifinal match
- Video: Jamestown wins first game from James Wood 25-9
- Video: Jamestown wins Game 2 on an ace
- Video: Happy Grafton fans root for their team
- Video: Grafton takes on Loudoun County in the Group 4A semifinals
- College Sports
- Virginia Commonwealth Rams
Stuart C. Siegel Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1200 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23284, USA
Jamestown d. James Wood 3-0 (25-9, 25-22, 25-23). Standouts: James Wood, Iden (15 digs), Painter (13 kills); Jamestown, St. Cyr (26 assists, 10 digs, 2 aces), Popelka (10 kills), Anderson (6 kills), M. Esch (6 kills), Beitzell (6 kills). Records: Jamestown 28-1, James Wood 24-6.
GROUP 3A SEMIFINALS
Warhill d. Northside 3-1 (25-12, 25-16, 14-25, 25-22). Standouts: Northside, West (31 assists, 10 digs), Keaton (14 kills, 10 digs), Price (3 aces); Warhill, Koon (14 kills, 3 blocks), Norris (9 kills), C. Clifton (4 aces). Records: Warhill 24-6, Northside 25-6.
Hidden Valley d. Lafayette 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 26-24, 26-24). Standouts: Lafayette, Langerud (12 kills, 4 aces), Howard (25 assists, 4 aces), Oren (11 kills), Noffsinger (12 digs, 4 aces); Hidden Valley, Podeschi (11 kills, 14 digs), Morris (16 kills), Freeland (13 assists). Records: Lafayette 18-8, Hidden Valley 29-2.
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.