Lady Trojan comeback tops Mathews in season opener
Down two games to one and facing a season-opening loss to Mathews’ Blue Devils, New Kent’s host Lady Trojans could have packed it in and shrugged off the looming outcome to experience. They didn’t.
The hosts used a 5-0 spurt to pull away in game four and carried that domination into a decisive fifth game to claim the Aug. 26 volleyball season opener for both — 25-21, 23-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-11.
“This team doesn’t give up,” winning coach Cyndi Burnett said after the non-district affair. “They’re all happy-go-lucky. They love each other and they don’t get down.”
New Kent opened with a strong showing. Behind Karley Allen’s serve, including a pair of aces, the hosts put together a 6-0 run to take a 12-5 lead on the way to winning game one.
But the Blue Devils, the Group A Tidewater District and Region A champs a year ago, squeezed out a narrow victory in game two and controlled the third game, building a seven-point lead on several occasions.
Game four was deadlocked 14-14 when Allen blocked a Mackenzie Moughon spike to put New Kent ahead to stay and earn side out. Taking over at server, Allen delivered back-to-back aces and finished a 5-0 run with another serve kill to stake her team to a 19-14 advantage. Mathews never pulled back closer than four before a Meagan Clark spike kill and Lena Ciaravino’s ace finished off the visitors.
“Karley’s serving picks the whole team up,” Burnett said. “Once she gets a string going, it really pumps our team up. It’s sort of like a feeding frenzy.”
New Kent wasted little time in taking command in the 15-point fifth contest. Allen’s kill for side out handed the ball to Clark whose serve led to a Blue Devil miscue, a kill drilled into the corner by outside hitter Amanda Branch, and an ace that rolled over the net for an 8-3 lead.
The advantage reached 11-4 before Mathews staged a rally, narrowing the gap to 12-10. But the visitors could not draw closer. Clark’s kill off a Ciaravino assist added the exclamation point to the triumph.
“We didn’t play our defensive positions in games two and three, and we struggled keeping our hits in the court,” Burnett said. “But we got good kills from [middle hitter] Jena [Williams], and [outside hitter] Ashley Pierce did an outstanding job in her first varsity start.”
Williams pounded a dozen kills to lead the Lady Trojans while Pierce and Allen each contributed 10 followed by Branch’s nine. Ciaravino, meanwhile, dished out 45 assists from her setting spot.
On defense, Williams and Allen managed 15 digs apiece while Branch added 13. Williams also registered three blocks while Clark and Allen were credited with two each.