JAMES CITY —The eye test can get teams into trouble sometimes.
Warhill High coach Greg Koon said his hitters were chomping at the bit before Tuesday’s home Group 3A volleyball semifinal against a Turner Ashby squad at a decided height disadvantage. The Knights’ tallest player measured 5-foot-10, and the Lions boast six players 5-10 or taller, including standout Alex Koon, a 6-3 senior.
“That sometimes causes you to be a little overconfident and slack a little bit on the fundamentals,” Greg Koon said. “You don’t get the jump that you need.”
Warhill got exactly the jump it needed, taking the first three points before rolling on to a dominant first-set win and ultimately a 3-0 (25-9, 25-7, 25-17) match victory.
The Lions (28-1) booked their return to VCU’s Siegel Center, where they will face Cave Spring of Roanoke at 3 p.m. Saturday for a state championship.
Warhill lost to Hidden Valley, another Roanoke team, last season in the state final.
“We’re excited to make it back there to at least repeat what we did last year,” said Greg Koon. “The excitement will probably end tonight or when we get back to work tomorrow, because we don’t want to come home with the disappointment we had last year. It’s very exciting, but we are under no misconception that we have it in the bag.”
Warhill senior outside hitter Colby Norris said the team has put last year behind it.
“The only thing we’re really focused on is the experience we’ve gained from playing at VCU,” she said. “So we’re not really focused on that so much as carrying this team forward.”
Norris is joined in the senior class by Alex Koon and setter Megan Harrigan.
Koon was steady as usual, leading the team with 16 kills to go along with 12 digs. Harrigan tallied 13 assists and 10 digs.
Norris believes the Lions have a special bond, one that she hasn’t felt before with another team.
“We all just love each other and we’re a big family off the court,” said Norris.
On the court, Warhill pulled away from a Turner Ashby team Greg Koon described as scrappy. The Knights stayed close in the third set, pulling within four points before the Lions won seven of the final 10 pointsto take the match.
Jewel Walters added 15 digs for Warhill, Nicole Mulligan had nine kills and Cori Clifton tallied 16 assists, 10 digs and six aces.
The Lions have reeled off 24 consecutive wins since a five-set loss to Jamestown in September. Still, Greg Koon sees room for improvement.
“I’d like to see them be a little bit more aggressive,” he said. “If they’re going to make errors anyway, why not make it an aggressive error?”
Cave Spring (27-2) advanced to the final by defeating Kettle Run 3-0 Tuesday.
Cave Spring’s losses came to Musselman of West Virginia and Hidden Valley.