STAUNTON – Robert E. Lee will play for a volleyball state championship for the first time since it won a title in 1999.
Lee rallied from a first-set loss Tuesday to beat Giles 23-25, 25-13, 25-22, 25-19 at the Paul Hatcher Gym in the 2A state semifinals. With the win, Lee will now play for the 2A state championship Saturday at 1 p.m. against Marion Senior, which beat Buffalo Gap in the other semifinal Tuesday night. The match will be played in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center.
“It’s just like an amazing feeling,” said Lee High’s Lindsey Bosserman, who finished with 19 digs Tuesday. “It’s always been a goal of ours and to actually reach it and to be there on Saturday is just going to be the best feeling in the world.”
Bosserman watched her older sister play at VCU three years ago in the state semifinals, but she’ll be able to do her sister one better Saturday by playing in the title match.
The only player on the current Lee roster that was part of that team in 2013 is Lee senior Meghan Wood. Now, she’ll get to finish out her career in the same building she ended her freshman season.
But this time instead of being relegated to the bench as she was three years ago, she is a major contributor to the team. Tuesday she had a kill to put her team up 18-11 in the fourth set and Lee finished out strong to take the match. For Wood, who finished the match with 10 kills and 12 digs, the win was filled with emotion. She was thrilled to be playing for a state title, but she also realized that it was her final game on her home court.
“It was a little emotional because this is where you start, your jayvee year,” Wood said. “You have so many memories here.”
Nellie Garrison is on the opposite end of that spectrum, finishing out her freshman season in the final volleyball match of the season in Group 2A. Three months ago, Garrison wasn’t sure if she would make the varsity team after the first day of tryouts. Now, she is not only on the team, but a big part of it. Garrison had 12 kills Tuesday, including the one that ended the match,
“I have been through so much, thanks to all of them, for sure,” Garrison said, motioning toward her teammates who were scattered about the gym floor celebrating the win. “It’s like when you play with people who are better than you, you become better. That’s so fun for me.”
Wood said Garrison has really stepped up this year. She’s not only good at blocking the ball — she had four Tuesday — but she is an aggressive force on the attack as well, something Wood didn’t see as much of from the freshman early in the season.
Tuesday, Lee trailed 8-2 in the first set, rallied to tie it at 18-18 but could never get the lead. But after a kill by Wood to start a 7-1 run at the beginning of the second set, Lee was in control of the match. Lee trailed 12-11 in the third set before rallying for the win and was tied with Giles five times in the fourth set before pulling away courtesy of a 6-0 run started by a kill by Wood.
“It’s overwhelming,” Lee coach Jan Williams said. “The girls played their hearts out and gave it their all. They put it out on the floor.”
Jennifer Williams finished the match with 17 kills, five blocks and 13 digs, while Addison Keatts added four kills and MacKensie Bowles had four kills and 21 digs. Alyx Steitz had five kills and three blocks for Lee in the win. Amber Johnson had 26 assists and Camryn Shull added 22 assists.
Lee will face a Marion Senior team that came up short in last year’s state championship match, winning the first two sets before losing the next three and the match to Goochland.
“I feel they’ve got a lot of pressure on themselves,” Jan Williams said of Marion. “They have unfinished business and we don’t. We’re ready just to go play and play hard.”