CROZET – Here’s all you need to know about Monday night’s Conference 29 volleyball tournament quarterfinal match — Western Albemarle’s Kelsey Grove finished with 12 kills, while Fort Defiance, as a team, had just 11 kills.
The Warriors, seeded second, had little trouble with No. 7 Fort, sweeping the match 25-11, 25-19, 25-6 and advancing to Wednesday night’s semifinals at Broadway where they will play No. 3 Turner Ashby, a straight-set winner over Broadway on Monday.
Western played, and beat, Turner Ashby in an early-season tournament.
“They were all tough, close matches,” Western coach Ron Pack said of that tournament.
If his team can win Wednesday, it will gain a berth in the Group 3A West regional tournament. The loser of that match will get another shot at a regional berth in a consolation match at Broadway on Thursday night.
As for Fort, what has been a rebuilding season came to a disappointing close.
Four seniors — Carrie Dunsmore, Ashley Crickenberger, Erin Shamber and Savannah Diehl — finished out their high school volleyball careers with the loss.
“They have brought us spirit,” Fort coach Sue Leonard said of her seniors. “We had no drama with this team. The team worked hard every day in practice. They got along. They had fun. And that’s a good season for a rebuilding year.”
Fort dug itself a deep, deep hole in the first and third games, falling behind 14-1 and 16-0, respectively. There’s little a team can do to climb out of those types of holes.
“We’ve struggled all year with serve-receive,” Leonard said. “That’s been our weakness. It’s the weakness of most teams, but obviously (Western) capitalized on that weakness.”
Unforced errors were also a problem for Fort, which had 17 errors in the match.
Pack said early leads, obviously, make things easier on the team in front. His team, he thought, was much looser, while he saw Fort tighten up when the lead ballooned to double digits.
It did, however, cause him one problem.
“Actually, it kind of messed up my rotation because I was going to run a 6-2 offense,” Pack said, “but our setter (Erin Farina) ran off 16 so I didn’t think she’d get back to the front row for me to get my other setter in. So I put my other setter in to kind of run a modified offense.”
Fort was competitive in the second game, rallying from an early 6-3 deficit to cut it to one four times.
But down 9-8, Fort watched the hosts go on a 4-0 run and the Indians could never get closer than three the rest of the way.
“It’s a shame,” Leonard said. “There were sparks of, ‘Oh, my gosh, we played really well.’ There just weren’t very many of those.”
Fort was led by Tori Cleveland’s four kills and Erin Henderson’s eight digs. Joy Adler added three kills and a block, while Shamber had six digs and Cheyenne Canipe got six assists in the loss. Fort finished the season 9-11.
Western got seven digs from Grove to go with her 12 kills, plus eight kills from Sienna Kellum and 13 digs from Hannah Miles. Farina finished with 26 assists.