SA advances in state volleyball playoffs

Published 9:55 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

Courtland—Southampton Academy’s volleyball team beat Holy Cross here Tuesday in the quarterfinal round of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state tournament.

The third-seeded and undefeated Lady Raiders prevailed in a five-game showdown, 25-15, 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-8, over the sixth-seeded Lady Gaels, who finished the season with a 10-10 record.

The Lady Raiders advance to semifinal action at 2 p.m. today at Liberty University in Lynchburg. If they win, they will play for the state championship at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

A truly intense game unfolded Tuesday night after the Lady Raiders easily won the first set.

It was the second set that provided the change in momentum as Holy Cross came back from a six-point deficit to win by four.

Not a single infraction seemed to get by the four-man officiating team, with more than 15 double hits called and five under-the-net crossing violations.

But this was a night where the fans made a difference, helping to give the Lady Raiders motivation with chants such as “Let’s Go, Raiders, Let’s Go.”

SA was led by Lindsay Raulston, who went 29-of-29 serving and also had 15 kills. Monica Fretts also had a great performance in her final home game. Fretts went 20-of-22 serving with one ace, the highlight of her evening being the rally server of the fifth set that helped the Lady Raiders prevail over the Lady Gaels.

Emma Fretts led the Lady Raiders with 15 assists, while Forrest Best also contributed with 3 solo blocks.

Senior Michalann Camp said the berth in the state semifinals is exciting.

“Being seniors, it’s really great to be able to go to Lynchburg. We have never made it that far. We lost in the quarterfinals last year, so it’s exciting to be moving on.

“I think we played really hard, Holy Cross played great, and it was a really intense game. But being that it took five sets, it shows us we have a lot to work on. Coach (Shawn) Denne will definitely work on that in practice. He’s already told us.

“The thing that kept us in the game was keeping our heads in the game and communicating. It helped us really pull through as a team.”

Monica Fretts said the SA players “have to work on our individual skills over the next couple of days and go all out in the tournament for our senior year.”

Denne acknowledged that it was an exciting game for the fans, “but I would rather win 3-0.”

“I don’t like going to the fifth game, because all it takes is for one person to get on a roll, and it can go either way.”

“We were very non-aggressive tonight,” continued Denne, “not the offense we usually have at all, where we usually spike the ball a lot. We didn’t execute on the offensive side, and they did, and that was almost our downfall. When we would free hit it over, they would spike it back at us.”

In order to keep winning in the playoffs, Denne said, “we have to be more aggressive and play offense rather than play defense and wait for the other team to mess up. Because when you get to this point in the state tournament, the other team is good too, and they generally don’t beat themselves or else they wouldn’t be in the state tournament.

“We have to try to win rather than try not to lose, which is what we did tonight. We tried not to lose rather than going out and trying to win.”