STAUNTON — The schedule makers didn’t do Robert E. Lee volleyball any favors.
Not only is it homecoming week, but Lee has its three most difficult matches in a row. The week began with a tough five-set loss to undefeated Turner Ashby, before Fort Defiance came for a visit Thursday. Then, next week begins with a trip to Spotswood.
Round two of the three-game stretch went Lee’s way as the home team knocked off Fort Defiance 16-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-18.
MacKensie Bowles led the way with 18 kills and 21 digs for the Lee Ladies. Despite starting the first set down 13-1, Lee rallied. Bowles said part of that slow start may have been that school had early dismissal today.
“I think everyone went home and took naps today,” said Bowles. “It took us a while, but I think we’re learning to finish a lot better.”
The junior didn’t think homecoming week or the big matches bothered her team. In fact, she said all the activity energized Lee. Plus, playing Fort always pumps up the team because of the rivalry.
Jennifer Williams finished the match with 14 kills and 11 digs to go along with four blocks in the win, while Amber Johnson finished with 28 assists and Camryn Shull added 23 assists.
Still, things didn’t look good early. Unlike Bowles, Lee coach Jan Williams said the busy week might have hurt her team in the opening set, and the hangover from the heartbreaking loss to TA worried her.
“It’s been a complicated week,” said the coach. “I actually was kind of concerned on how they were going to start. I was hoping we would finish this way, but I worried it was going to be a slow start.”
Lee got as close as eight points in the first set, but couldn’t pull off the comeback win. But by set two, Lee was rolling. Back-to-back blocks by Jennifer Williams put Lee in front 20-12 and the home team held on from there.
Lee went up 6-1 in the third set after an ace by Johnson, but Fort rallied, tying the set four times before taking a 15-11 lead on a kill by Jayden Beasley, part of her 12 kills on the night. Lee then came back to tie the set 18-18 and, after six more ties, Lee finally finished off the set with the final two points to win 26-24.
Lee never trailed in the fourth set in taking the match 3-1.
Jan Williams gave a lot of credit to Bowles after the match, saying her play has really been coming on strong lately and the setters have been getting the ball exactly where she wants it to finish off attacks.
“My approach on the ball has gotten a lot better,” said Bowles. “(Assistant coach) Roger Davis has been teaching me how to swing my arm. My timing has gotten a lot better too.”
Nellie Garrison added seven kills, while Alyx Steitz and Meghan Wood finished with four kills each. Lindsey Bosserman had 12 digs in the win.
Lee is now 9-4 on the season.
Fort, which is now 8-3, got 18 assists and 16 digs from Madi Kimmel, while Tori Cleveland finished with 14 kills and 13 digs in the loss. Casey Mozingo had seven kills for the Indians. Fort is at Broadway Tuesday.
“They are powerful. They are a good offensive team,” Fort coach Sue Leonard said of Lee. “That’s as good as we’ve seen.”
Fort Defiance won the jayvee match 25-12, 25-18.