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Prep Volleyball: Cougars keep Knights a bay
BY JIM SWING
Tuesday night’s match was going to be important, and Courtland knew that.
The Cougars and Spotsylvania sat Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Battlefield District standings.
A loss, and Courtland would be joined in first place by the Knights. A win, and they would receive a two-game separation.
So in a 3–1 (25–10, 18–25, 25–20, 25–15) win over Spotsylvania, Courtland made sure to maintain sole possession of first place.
“We knew that we were fighting for first place,” said Cougars middle blocker Anna Gallup, who recorded 11 kills, 12 digs and five blocks. “So we just gave it our all and it turned out good for us.”
Courtland captured the first set with ease, scoring nine straight points to jump out to a 15–4 lead.
In the second set, however, Spotsylvania would fight neck-and-neck.
The Knights finished the set on an 8–2 run to even the match at one game apiece.
“You can’t let a good team up,” Courtland coach Bob Hott said. “You’ve got to keep them down.”
Naturally, it wasn’t easy.
The first two sets appeared like preliminaries for the third sets main event.
Both teams traded blows in a third set that presented 14 ties and six lead changes.
With his team down 17–15, Hott called a timeout that would alter the course of the set.
The Cougars reeled off an 8–3 run before Spotsylvania coach Lou Wondree was forced to call a timeout if his own.
It was too late.
Courtland snatched away two of the next three points to grab a one-game lead and cap off an exhilarating, gym-rattling third set.
“I was screaming so hard that my voice was pretty much gone,” junior libero McKay Richardson said.
An exhausting third set might’ve been Spotsylvania’s undoing, and perhaps what shifted the momentum for good.
Courtland managed to sprint out to an 18–10 lead in the fourth set, which left the Knight with far too large of a hole to climb out of.
But it wasn’t for lack of effort.
Down 19–14, Spotsylvania jostled for a ball that had deflected oddly off of the rafters in the gymnasium ceiling.
The Cougars would grab six of the next seven points to seal the victory, but the play was indicative of the scrappy match.
“All these county schools want to go at each other,” Hott said. “And since we’re in the same district, it’s more important for us.
“I kind of figured that this was going to be the matchup that mattered.”
Josie Till had 11 kills and three blocks and Bianca Rumbaugh added 34 assists for Courtland.
Katie Graham and Callie Stott each had eight kills for the Knights, along with Caitlin Chmielewski who had eight kills, 30 assists, nine digs and three blocks.
Richardson posted a game-high 31 digs for the Cougars.
“McKay Richardson touched everything in the gym,” Hott said. “Everything she could get to she was touching.”
Middle blocker Emily Jordan led a dominant Courtland front, recording 13 kills and six blocks, including the final point of the match.
“I think most of it was due to our blockers,” Richardson said. “Everyone just played amazing.”
The Cougars (12–5, 8–0), who now hold a firm grasp on first place in the Battlefield District, visit Eastern View Thursday.
Spotsylvania (6–7, 6–2) hosts James Monroe.
Jim Swing: 540/374-5440