Sports: W.Va. trip brings first volleyball defeat

The Lady Panthers varsity volleyball traveled the lengthy distance to Baker, W.Va., Tuesday night to suffer defeat at the hands of the East Hardy Cougars — the varsity team’s first loss of the season.

“We lost focus and didn’t play our game,” coach Jackie Tederick said after the 2-3 loss, which brings the team’s record to 4-1. “Our girls weren’t aggressive and gave the other team too many free balls.”

Rappahannock was to face Randolph-Macon Academy at home on Wednesday night, Sept. 15 (results will be reported next week) and are hosting a doubleheader with Colonial Beach beginning at 5 p.m. tonight (Sept. 16).— Melissa Delcour

JP volleyball’s new coach, new energy

There’s a new coach on the block at RCHS. Vickie Williams, a fourth year special education teacher at Rappahannock County High School, accepted her first coaching position this season. This week, the former high school setter and defensive specialist led the Junior Panther girls’ volleyball team in some terrific play for a 1-2 starting record.

On Sept. 9, the JPs came out determined against Mountain View Christian Academy.  “We won 25-18 on strong passing and serving,” Williams said. “The second set was a thriller, with the lead changing several times. Our girls came from behind, 13-7, and then had a solid lead at 22-18. At that point, confidence was the deciding factor.  When the lead started slipping away, the girls became a little nervous and made some errors.”  The final score was 27-25, Mountain View.  They lost the third set, 15-11.

“This was a tough match with which to begin the season,” Williams said, “but it showed us that we can compete with anybody in our conference. We need to work on fully running our offense and setting the ball, and we will be just fine.”  

Game two came on Sept. 13 when the Panthers hosted Wakefield Country Day School for a heartbreaking loss. “It took us a while to get going in the first set, dropping it, 12-25,” Williams said. “However, the girls regrouped and came out strong in the second set, winning it, 25-18. The third set was a thriller with the lead changing several times before the last Wakefield serve fell right on the baseline, giving them a 16-14 win.

“Altogether, the team showed much improvement. They moved extremely well and played more as a team. In the end, inexperience was the deciding factor. As the girls get more comfortable on the court, they will be better able to “read” the ball.

Overall, Rapp’s serving stats and net game improved. The team served 71 percent with eight aces.  Sammy Keys served 80 percent, and Kayla Robey came off the bench during the second set to serve 100 percent with two aces.  Kathleen Forrest and Jane Purnell established their net play with two kills each.

Panthers had no time to rest before their next game at William Monroe Middle School in Stanardsville. But rest was apparently not needed. Panthers beat the Dragons, 2-1, in an energized three-game match.

“I just think that my team wants to give the spectators their money’s worth,” Williams laughed. “We went three sets again, but this time we came out on the other end. The final score was insane: 24-26, 25-17, 15-10.

“The girls were over the moon – so excited. They have grown every match and are getting better at maintaining composure and learning to deal with distractions. The team hung tough and just played their game.” 

Purnell, Hannah Bennett and Forrest boosted the energy with their enthusiastic net play. Robey, the team’s libero, had some intimidating serves. Rapp was more cohesive on the road and passing was greatly improved.

The Junior Panther volleyball girls confront their next challenge on Sept. 20 with a doubleheader on the road against Wildwood Middle and Romney Middle in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va. — M.D.