Carroll County’s volleyball team recorded a historic win Wednesday night, defeating Jefferson Forest 3-1 in a 4-A Conference 24 Semifinal in Forest.
With the win, Carroll County’s volleyball squad becomes the first team in school history to advance to a 4-A North Region Tournament under the Virginia High School League’s new playoff format. As the Number 2 seed out of the West, Carroll County (16-11) rallied after losing the first set to win three straight against the Jefferson Forest (16-15), the Number 1 seed out of the East. In the end, Carroll prevailed 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-18.
“I think it is a huge win for us,” Carroll County head coach Cindy Edwards said. “We’re excited. We are the first team from Carroll in the new conference setup to qualify for regions, so the kids are excited very much in that aspect.”
Against Jefferson Forest, Edwards said her team was sparked by excellent hitting and defensive play. Carroll County finished 83 percent hitting (110-of-131) and made up for 11 missed serves with 11 aces. Carroll also did a good job handling Jefferson Forest’s jump-serving attack as the Cavaliers racked up 70 digs, led by Grace Lindsey’s 19 digs.
“Everybody on their team jump served. The ball had a lot of movement, but defensively we had 70 digs for the whole game. Hitting-wise we were at 80 percent, so executing the ball inbounds was huge for us, too,” Edwards said. “All around I thought the kids played well. (Cave Spring head coach) Tamalyn (Tanis) told me that is who we would probably face, and if we serve-received well and aggressively we would play well against them. Obviously she was right. I think defensively we did a really good job. Serving-wise, our number of missed serves and aces were equal, and that is what you want.”
Lindsey and Megan Alderman both had three aces for Carroll County, Eustacia Smith added two and Cheyenne Strickland, Jessica Sheek and Morgan Tompkins each had one ace. Smith also notched 14 kills and 14 digs, while Sheek and Strickland both added eight kills. Rachel Farmer was big at the net with five blocks, and Tompkins and Morgan Crowder each contributed two blocks. Strickland added 12 digs and 14 assists, while Alderman led Carroll with 17 assists.
Another huge factor in the Cavaliers’ big victory was the team’s poise. After dropping the first set, Carroll watched a 17-7 lead evaporate in the second set as Jefferson Forest ripped off nine straight points. But Edwards’ team stood up tall to the challenge.
“The kids played with confidence. They weren’t intimidated. We had the huge lead in the second game, some of it was off unforced errors and some off the girl’s serve, but we didn’t panic. They came back to tie it but we finished with the final three points and won,” Edwards said. “The girls didn’t quit. The district we are in helped in that we didn’t panic. They are getting more used to what they are seeing.”
While Carroll County did not rack up its normal eye-popping win totals this season after moving from the Southwest District, a full season in the powerhouse River Ridge District had the battle-tested Cavaliers much more ready for the postseason.
“I’m just excited for the kids. At times it has been frustrating, but it’s also been good,” Edwards said. “We talked about the new district helping us and naturally it did. We’ve been competitive in every game. They only one we weren’t was Hidden Valley at home. You aren’t going to match somebody that gifted. But like I told the kids, now the pressure is not on us. Really the pressure was last night. So we will go out and play and whatever happens happens. We will have fun and do the best we can.”
With the win, Carroll County advances to the Conference Final tonight, Nov. 7, at Salem. Salem defeated Carroll County both times during the regular season, once in three sets and a second time in four sets. According to Carroll County Athletic Director Darrin Matthews, the Cavaliers will host a home game on Tuesday, Nov. 12 with a win tonight. If Carroll loses, it would be on the road that night. He said Carroll would play either Fluvanna County or John Handley High School out of Conference 23 in a 4-A North Region Quarterfinal.
Carroll County 3, Pulaski County 0
Carroll County swept Pulaski County 3-0 in a 4-A Conference 24 Quarterfinal on Nov. 4, improving to 15-11 overall with the 25-18, 25-20, 25-22 win.
Cheyenne Strickland led Carroll with 18 points, Jessica Sheek and Eustacia Smith each had 13, Grace Lindsey had 12, and Megan Alderman and Morgan Tompkins had 10 apiece.
Lindsey was 12 of 12 with an ace serving and Alderman was 11 of 11 with an ace. Strickland was 15 of 16 with three aces, Sheek 11 of 13 with three aces and Tompkins was nine of 10.
Smith was 22 of 24 with 10 kills hitting, Sheek was 15 of 18 with nine kills, Strickland was 18 of 19 with four kills and Morgan Crowder was seven of eight with three kills.
Strickland led the way setting with a perfect 31 of 31 mark that included nine assists. Alderman was 32 of 36 with 12 assists and Crowder was six of seven with three assists.
Lindsey was 14 of 23 with 10 digs passing and Smith was 11 of 16 with 12 digs. Alderman and Strickland had seven digs apiece.
Tompkins came up with two blocks, while Smith, Crowder and Rachel Farmer had one each.