Lady Trojans qualify for AA state tourney, take 2nd in region
NK 3 Courtland 2
Going the five-set limit, New Kent’s Lady Trojans stunned Courtland’s host Cougars, the Battlefield District champion, to advance to the Region I volleyball title game.
More importantly, the victory qualified New Kent (22-6) for a berth in this week’s Group AA state tournament. The Lady Trojans are back in the state foray for the first time since 2006.
“This was a barn burner,” Lady Trojan coach Cyndi Burnett said after her team held off Courtland 25-20, 23-25, 25-19, 26-28, 15-12 in last Thursday’s marathon.
New Kent fell behind 12-7 in the first set, but Ashley Pierce turned matters around, first with a kill and then with her serve. Her ace opened a 14-12 New Kent lead, forcing Courtland to call time out.
The Cougars forged another deadlock at 16-16, but a Kelsey Stanbro kill put New Kent back in front on the way to a set one win.
In the second set, New Kent appeared to have control with a comfortable lead, but Courtland stormed back to overtake the visitors 19-19. The set became the one that got away from the Lady Trojans.
New Kent did not allow a repeat in set three, building an early 12-7 lead and not allowing the hosts to draw closer than three. Katie Ilch’s kill put the set in New Kent’s win column.
The Lady Trojans surged to a 12-6 lead in the fourth set, but back came the Cougars with an 8-1 run that put the hosts in front 14-13.
With New Kent up 19-18, a controversial call on a Lady Trojan shot handed the tying point and side out to Courtland, creating a nip-and-tuck contest the rest of the way. New Kent missed on three opportunities to put the game away before a Cougar kill followed by a block on a Karley Allen spike sent the contest into a decisive fifth set.
Only having to reach 15 points to win the fifth set put pressure on both teams, but New Kent pulled away to a seemingly safe 11-6 lead. Back came the Cougars again to create an 11-11 deadlock.
Jena Williams broke the final tie for New Kent, hammering a spike just inbounds. Allen poked a shot out of bounds to even the affair for the Cougars, but she made amends seconds later with a solid kill to put New Kent in front to stay.
Williams’ diving effort to save point on a Courtland shot led to a Cougar passing miscue and point 14 for New Kent. Stanbro then blocked a Cougar spike to touch off a wild New Kent victory celebration.
The front line trio of Allen, Williams, and Stanbro combined for 44 kills. Individually, Allen led with 16 followed by Williams with 15 and Stanbro’s 13. Stanbro committed no errors during the match.
Pierce led New Kent in aces with three while Gina Sledd registered 47 assists. On defense, Allen led with 32 digs while Skylar Cossaboon, Olivia Foster, and Williams managed 16 apiece.
NK 3 Spotsylvania 0
Despite a sub-par performance, New Kent’s Lady Trojans advanced to the semifinal round in the Region I volleyball tournament with a 25-16, 25-15, 25-22 win over Spotsylvania’s Knights.
The host Lady Trojans came out strong in the Nov. 6 contest, building a 7-2 lead. But Spotsylvania made things interesting, thanks to New Kent errors. A Knight run created a 10-10 tie.
Lady Trojan Jena Williams, however, changed momentum by delivering three aces in a row. Williams eventually closed out the set with a kill.
In the second set, error after error plagued New Kent. Execution was not there at first as they were down early 7-9, but like the first set the hosts got a spark from their service game.
Skylar Cossaboon converted three aces, Ashley Pierce had three kills, and Karley Allen added two kills during a big time rally that helped New Kent move in front 18-9.
“Tonight we were pleased with our hitters. All of our hitters tonight had very positive plays,” said Lady Trojan coach Cyndi Burnett.
New Kent fell behind in the third set as the Knights capitalized on the Lady Trojans’ sluggish play.
“We had an entire day off and we just were really off our routine,” said Burnett.
New Kent regained the lead at 19-17, but two uncharacteristic errors by senior captains Allen and Williams forged a 19-19 tie, prompting Burnett to call time-out. The Lady Trojans regrouped for the straight set win.
“It’s hard to get up and play a team of that caliber, and it’s hard to get excited and motivated especially after playing in the district we play in with Jamestown and Grafton,” said Burnett.
“We have not talked about looking ahead to either Jamestown or Grafton,” she added. “It’s not the focus; it’s one game and one match at a time.”
Allen with New Kent with 14 kills, two aces, and 15 digs. Kelsey Stanbro had eight kills, two digs and two blocks. Williams added seven kills, five aces, and six digs while Pierce had six kills, three aces and three digs.
Jamestown 3 NK 0
For the fourth time this season, New Kent’s Lady Trojans collided with Jamestown’s powerful Eagles, this time for the Region I volleyball championship and the right to host a quarterfinal game in this week’s state Group AA tournament.
Unfortunately for New Kent, host Jamestown enhanced performances from the three earlier encounters, dominating from the start on the way to a 25-15, 25-19, 25-13 win. Last Saturday’s outcome placed in New Kent (22-7) in traveling mode to face Region II champ Loudoun County in this past Tuesday’s quarterfinal.
After Saturday’s disappointing loss, New Kent coach Cyndi Burnett said the result did not stem from her team being in awe of the Eagles.
“Mentally, we were ready,” she said. “We were prepared, we had a good practice the day before, and we were up for it. I think physically they just beat us.”
Jamestown jumped out to respective 3-0 and 7-0 leads in the first two sets and never looked back. Service reception errors early on in set one handed Jamestown the lead. Then the Lady Trojans were unable to string together a run of more than two points on offense. New Kent wiped out the early second set deficit, closing the gap to 10-9 before the Eagles pulled away.
New Kent managed its lone lead of the night at 2-1 in set three, but the Eagles forged ahead and held a 10-4 advantage before Burnett called time to curtail the surge. But it was to no avail.
“They are a really, really good team,” Burnett said about the Eagles. “Their offense, their serving, their defense are all strong and they have no weaknesses.
“We got a couple of blocks this time and that was better than last time,” she said. “But then when we got a good hit, they would dig it up. They were just on in every aspect of the game.”