Colonials Earn Sweep of Royals
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Oct 30, 2013, 07:42
David Breidenbach/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE — After falling behind by a 14-4 margin in the first set, one would not blame Colonial Heights’ boys volleyball team for giving in and not recovering the rest of the way. After all, the match did mark the Prince George’s team’s Senior Day, giving them added incentive to capture the win.
The adrenaline from playing in front of friends and family surely helped the Royals in the first set, but then something they didn’t expect happened — the Colonials rallied.
The 14-4 deficit turned into a 21-21 tie after Layne McNamara recorded an ace. However, the comeback attempt in the first set would fall short with the Colonials falling, 25-23, but the tone was set.
Colonial Heights (13-9) carried the momentum from the first set over to the rest of the game as they swept the next three sets, 26-16, 25-17 and 25-15 to pick up a vital victory with the conference tournament beginning next week.
“We came out and thought we were going to win pretty easily,” Colonials’ coach Mark Lee said. “They played really well and they just beat us but in the second, third and fourth we got our stuff together.”
And the key player to putting everything together is Noah Murdoch.
The towering sophomore’s ability to block shots and register kills at ease is a luxury many teams do not have. In fact, it was Murdoch who led the Colonials to make their first-set run.
The sophomore registered a block on a Royals’ kill attempt before his two serves led to points for Colonial Heights, turning a 17-13 deficit into a 17-16 deficit in less than a minute of elapsed time.
Yet, the effort was not enough for Lee.
“They battled back, but they didn’t battle enough to win it,” Lee said. “You come back from over 10 points down and you can’t get the one or two more? You should be able to keep that fight going, especially if you want to be a good team.”
And that’s something the Colonials are continuing to build toward with the amount of weapons they have on the court at all times.
Max Haynie continually registered dig after dig on attempted Royals’ kills, helping to set up his own team for kills of their own.
It’s something that did not go unnoticed by the head coach.
“He’s usually a passer for me, but my regular libero broke his hand and Max filled in really well,” Lee said. “He did everything I expect him to and he covers the court real well.”
Meanwhile, the Colonial Heights’ girls volleyball team entered their match against the Royals knowing how important a win would be to their conference tournament seeding.
The urgency they showed from the opening serve was noticeable to everyone in the gym.
David Breidenbach/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
In fact, the Colonials jumped out to an early 11-3 lead, utilizing kills from Kayla Boyd and aces from both Taylor Banty and Lindsey Nowland. It was a foreshadowing of events to come as Colonial Heights captured a straight-set victory over the Royals by the score of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-19.
“We don’t start well, ever,” Colonials’ coach Toni Martin said of taking the early lead before nearly surrendering it in the first set. “It’s something we battled all season — being able to take the lead and then keep it.”
But Nowland made it her mission to not let the Royals get back into the game.
Prince George’s Erica Winston and Jocelyn Parkers each possessed laser-like shots on kill attempts, but they became frustrated as much of their shots were dug out by Nowland in the back.
Time and time again, the Colonials’ (12-9) libero made the play her team needed. However, she was not alone in her production.
Perhaps the most important player on the court was not Nowland or Boyd — the Colonials’ heavy hitter — but a senior who knows her role and does it well.
Savannah Couch routinely covered much of the court with her speed, getting to balls well out of bounds and set-up her teammates for possessions which led to points.
One play in particular stands out when discussing the impact Couch had on the match. With the Royals charging hard, taking a lead late in the third set, it was Couch tracking down a high arching ball toward her own bench. She set herself, and bumped it backward toward Boyd who powered it between two Royals for a kill.
The play of both Nowland and Couch is something Martin has become accustomed to over the years.
“Lindsey has really stepped in and taken over the libero spot and has been, very, very good back there,” Martin said. “And Savannah will pretty much put her hands on anything she can get too. Being one of the quickest on the team is definitely a plus in that regard.”
Earning the doubleheader sweep of the Royals, both the boys and girls volleyball teams highlighted some of the strengths they have. They also both have their own destiny in their hands — a comforting thought as the season heads to its conclusion.