Lady Trojan major upset bid falls short
Unable to deliver a knockout blow in a title match of Bay Rivers volleyball heavyweights, New Kent’s Lady Trojans settled for runner-up to Jamestown’s unbeaten Eagles.
The Lady Trojans stunned the top-ranked Eagles on the number one seed’s home turf in last Saturday’s district tournament final, but couldn’t seal the deal. Jamestown escaped with a 19-17 overtime win in the deciding fifth set after the teams had split the first four.
Afterward, Lady Trojan players exhibited obvious disappointment with some reduced to tears.
“Why these girls are so upset is they know they should have won,” New Kent coach Cyndi Burnett said. “But we had crucial mistakes including some missed serves.
“We played Jamestown closer than anybody has all year, but that’s not good enough,” she said. “We had our chances to put them away, and if you want to be a championship team, you’ve got to do that.”
Early on, the night appeared to belong to New Kent. Scoring points on 14 kills and a block with Ashton Wallace’s five kills leading the way, the visitors humbled the Eagles 25-17 in the first set.
“[Jamestown] came out flat and cold and looked like the way we looked the other night against Grafton,” Burnett said, pointing to the district semifinal in which her Lady Trojans dropped the first two sets before winning the next three.
But the Eagles warmed up in set two as consecutive Kiley Sutton aces helped open a 4-0 lead. New Kent could not draw closer than two as the Eagles posted a 25-15 win.
Jamestown opened set three with a 3-0 lead, but New Kent settled down after a Wallace kill ended the run. Rachel Day’s ace triggered a 5-0 run, handing New Kent a 6-3 lead.
New Kent extended its advantage to eight points at 19-11 and capped a 25-20 win on Day’s short set for a Sharda Braxton kill.
New Kent managed an early 3-0 lead in the fourth set, but Jamestown recovered, breaking a 10-10 deadlock to move ahead to stay. Down 24-19, the visitors closed the gap to one on a pair of kills by Wallace, one from Braxton, and an Eagle spike out of bounds, but Krista Hughes’ kill sent the contest into the decisive 15-point fifth set.
Again, New Kent vaulted in front, this time by a 5-0 count. The advantage grew to 9-3, but the hosts roared back, catching the Lady Trojans at 12-all on a Sutton ace and grabbing their first lead of the set on an errant New Kent spike.
The Lady Trojans twice stood on the verge of victory, but a carrying violation at 14-13 and a missed serve at 15-14 kept the Eagles in the game. Another missed serve handed Jamestown a 17-16 lead.
Hillary Metheny’s back line shot created a 17-17 deadlock and side out for New Kent, but a Hughes’ back line return landed just inbounds to put the hosts back in front. New Kent defenders backed off Leslie Schmidt’s subsequent serve, as the ball appeared to be sailing out of bounds, but an official signaled an ace, ending the marathon.
“We had them, but then they got their better rotation on the front line and we were hard pressed to stay with them,” Burnett said.
New Kent (19-4) advances to the Region I tournament, facing Southside District number two seed Bluestone last night (Tuesday) in Chase City. A win puts the Lady Trojans in the semifinals against the Grafton-Chancellor winner. They would be on the road if Chancellor prevails but would host Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the event of a Grafton win.