By David Wagner
The 2015 Varsity Western Albemarle volleyball team got off to a strong start in September with non-district wins over Waynesboro and Handley. The Warriors then proceeded to take the Championship at the Spotswood Invitational tournament, going 5-0-1. Western Albemarle won their pool with wins over Spotswood and Waynesboro and played Luray to a 1-1 draw before beating Fort Defiance 3-0 for the championship. Senior Kelsey Grove tallied 36 kills for the Warriors, senior setter Erin Farina added 64 assists and seniors Sienna Kellum, Hannah Miles and Colleen Forsman showed up big in the championship match. Kellum led the team with 14 kills against Fort Defiance, libiero Miles added seven digs and right side hitter Forsman had 10 kills and eight digs of her own.
After a lay-off the Warriors opened Jefferson District play against Monticello High School, cruising to a 3-0 win over the Mustangs. Grove led the surge for Western with 14 kills and fine defensive play, notching 12 digs. Miles and Forsman nabbed 10 and 8 digs respectively.
Western then made the long trip to Powhatan for another District match. The Indians, really tough at home, defeated the Warriors 3-1. Erin Farina played out of her mind with 45 assists in the four-set match, a season high for the team. Hannah Miles set a season high team mark also, garnering 24 digs. Grove had a team-high 19 kills for the match and Sienna Kellum added 10 kills and 12 digs, showing her versatility. Courtney Berry was dominant at times with 9 kills and Forsman played extremely well from the right side with 6 kills and 12 digs.
Next up was the Warrior Invitational at Western Albemarle High School September 19th. The Warriors invited stiff competition and did not guarantee themselves a win at their own tournament. Jefferson Forest (Lynchburg), Grafton (Williamsburg) and Mills Godwin (Richmond) joined the Warriors for a day of highly competitive volleyball.
Western first faced Jefferson Forest and won in straight sets. Grove led the Warriors with 19 kills and 16 digs, putting in a superb performance. Courtney Berry continued her strong play in the middle posting 8 kills and 4 blocks. Miles had 15 digs, giving setters Farina and Elissa Simpson chances to assist the frontline.
In their second match the Warriors faced Grafton in a hard-fought match. Grafton came out on top, 2-1, but Western gave them a run. Farina tallied 25 assists, Grove had 8 kills and 10 digs, Berry had 8 kills in the middle, Forsman led in digs with 13 and Miles added 12.
The Warriors faced Mills Godwin in the final match of pool play. Again, Western dropped a very competitive match, 2-1. Grove continued her stellar play with 10 kills and a team high 18 digs. Makayla Shifflett made a big contribution once again, getting 9 kills and 7 digs.
In the semi-finals the Warriors faced Grafton. The match went to three sets and Western held on to win, 15-12, and advance to the finals. Shifflett had a team-high 10 kills and added 5 digs defensively. In the finals the Warriors could not pull off the upset over Mills Godwin, who won the tourney title in three sets. Senior setter Farina had her best match, posting 30 assists and 8 digs.
The Warriors took care of Fluvanna County High School in their next district match, 3-0, and then faced Albemarle High School. The Patriots won the first set. Both teams struggled with unforced errors. The Warriors bounced back to take the second set, scoring four of the last five points. In the third set Western looked out of sync as the Patriots jumped out to a 9-3 lead. Albemarle cruised to win behind the imposing play of Stephanie Lugus and exceptional setting from Ellie Benning. In the fourth set Western bolted to a commanding 17-11 lead with an opportunity to force a fifth and final set. But the Patriots would have none of it. Albemarle went on a 12-2 run to win. For Western, Grove had 19 kills and 13 digs, Berry had 7 kills and 3 aces, Olivia Nichols had 7 kills and 4 blocks, Farina had 35 assists and 8 digs and Adriana Bland played solid defense off the bench.
At mid-season the Warriors have a more than respectable 9-5-2 record overall and are 2-2 in the Jefferson District. They still have to make their way through the district schedule a second time. The team was highly competitive in the losses to Powhatan and Albemarle. Bringing a district title back to Crozet isn’t out of the question.