Jamestown holds off Warhill to extend home, Bay Rivers volleyball win streaks

mobrien@dailypress.com

JAMES CITY — Jamestown High's girls volleyball team added another notch to two of the area's most impressive winning streaks. Just barely.

The Eagles have won 55 consecutive matches at home and 33 in a row against Bay Rivers District competition after beating Warhill on Tuesday 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-9. The Lions (5-1, 5-1 district) came within three points of breaking the streaks twice in the fourth set, but the Eagles (10-2, 7-0) displayed more poise and aggressiveness down the stretch.

"That definitely motivated us so much the last couple of games to pull off the win," Jamestown defensive standout Tess Anderson said. "It brought our energy up so much, we were beyond hyped up.

"We knew what was on the line, and to keep the streak alive against such a good opponent is an amazing feeling. I think it will carry us the rest of the week and the entire season."

Jamestown hopes to end its season again in the Group 4A state final. Warhill reached the Group 3A state final a year ago, so rarely has there ever been a Bay Rivers volleyball match of such high pedigree.

That quality was evident from the first set, which was tied at 21 when Jamestown hitter Ellie Popelka took control. The Eagles scored four of the final five points as Popelka had two kills, a block and served the final point, which ended with Emma Schriner's kill.

Warhill rebounded by taking control early in the second set behind the strong play of Cori Clifton and Nicole Mulligan. Mulligan had several putaways as Warhill took an early 10-4 lead, then stretched it to 22-13 with Clifton blocking, hitting and defending superbly.

The Lions ran off the final five points of the third set to win 25-21 with contributions everywhere: a Mulligan tip, Colby Norris' ace, a point from Jewel Walters, a tip from all-state hitter Alex Koon and yet another hit by Clifton.

Jamestown answered strongly in the fourth set, moving out to a 20-14 lead with a stretch that included consecutive aces by Popelka and an emphatic kill by Maria Esch, whose presence at the net was a key in the final two sets. Warhill rallied to tie the set at 22 with more strong hitting from Koon and Clifton, along with deft serving by Megan Harrigan.

But the Eagles dominated from there. Part of it was Warhill nerves, but a big part was terrific defense by Jamestown players like Anderson and Maggie Viniard. Anderson had a big hit as the Eagles won the fourth set 25-23, but solid, sometimes spectacular, defense was her singular contribution.

"Maggie and Tess were nasty in a good way on defense," Jamestown coach Tom Stephenson said.

Esch said, "We knew defense would be the key, because both teams came out with strong offenses. We read their hitters, picked up the ball, and that was a big factor."

Stephenson had said before the match that defending the Warhill serves and hits would be the key factor, and his team was nearly flawless doing so in winning the fifth set 15-9. So the streaks live on.

"This is one of the toughest wins we've had at home during the streak, coming from behind two sets to one," Stephenson said.

Warhill coach Greg Koon said, "We got extremely nervous and played not to lose. When we play like that, we lose.

"When we play with confidence, nobody can beat us."

Jamestown d. Warhill 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-9.

Standouts: Warhill, Clifton 14 kills, 12 assists, 13 digs; Koon 14 kills, 17 digs; Mulligan 11 kills; M. Harrigan 26 assists, 17 digs; Walters 20 digs. Jamestown, Popelka 3 aces, 14 kills, 2 blocks; Viniard 2 aces, 17 aces, 14 digs; Esch 11 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, 20 digs; Allison 19 digs; Spence 10 digs, 21 assists; Anderson 12 digs, 7 kills. Records: Warhill 5-1, 5-1 Bay Rivers; Jamestown 10-2, 7-0.

O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.

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