Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 3, 2012

Blues persevere

Richlands spikers top Tazewell in five

RICHLANDS, Va. — Ronnie Sparks would have enjoyed Richlands’ volleyball match with Tazewell on Tuesday night more if he wasn’t on the sidelines trying to coax his Lady Blues to victory.

 “It is a big rivalry game and both sides are going to play tough,” said Sparks, Richlands’ volleyball coach. “I like to see games like that. It was an exciting game, a little nerve-wracking, but a win is a win and we will take it.”

 Richlands (8-4, 1-2) rallied from a 2-1 deficit in games to defeat Tazewell in a thrilling 25-8, 18-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-8 Southwest Virginia win over the Bulldogs.

  Rachel Alley led the Blue Tornado with 14 kills and three blocks, including four kills in the deciding fifth game. Alley’s sister, Hannah, had 10 assists, and also added one kill and three service points in the final game.

 Richlands used a 8-1 run in the fifth game to pull away from the Bulldogs. Mac Cordill and Sarah Compton also had kills during that span, while Cordill and Keisha Lynch had an ace apiece.

 “I think the big key for that (fifth game) was no service errors,” Sparks said. “In the couple of games that we lost we had way too many service errors and that can come back to haunt you.

 “We did a really good job there. We played good defense and watched for shifts and hit the ball pretty good. That is what I told them you have to do to win is hit the ball and that is what wins points and that is what wins games.”

 It didn’t look good early for Tazewell, with the Bulldogs falling behind 15-0 and 17-1 in the opening game, and then Bre Holloway had to be helped to the floor with a knee injury. Tazewell narrowed the margin to 17-8, but the Blues won the next eight points to finish it off.  

 Brooke Perkins, who had 10 aces and two kills, had 15 straight service points to start the match.

 “We got on a good roll there with the first serve,” Sparks said. “She has got a good serve and she got it in and got on track there and it kind of snowballed on Tazewell.”

 Tazewell fought back in a second game that featured nine ties and four lead changes before the Bulldogs were able to knot the match at one each, led by four kills from Haley Bradshaw and three aces by southpaw server Laura Kincer.

 “They started playing their game and started playing like a team in the second game,” Tazewell first year coach Katie Hurley said. “When we play as a team and play with heart, we definitely have the ability to beat anybody that comes in our path.”

 It showed in the third game as well, with the Bulldogs surviving 10 ties and four lead changes, led by a pair of aces from Brianna Tabor, including a perfect serve to finish off the third game and put Tazewell on the brink of winning the match.

 “I told the girls they are tough team, you can’t expect you them to fall over because they are going to play tough and they did,” Sparks said. “They always do against us, it is always an intense match…”

 Tazewell tried to put it away, but Richlands took the last of five lead changes at 16-15 and held off the Bulldogs on a kill by Cordill.

 “We definitely didn’t want to play a fifth game,” Hurley said, “but that is just the way it rolls sometimes.”

 The match featured long volleys, numerous digs, hard hitting, remarkable diving saves and plenty of floor burns. The Lady Blues were able to take a 6-2 lead in the final game, led by Alley and Cordill. Richlands then answered a Tazewell point with four of their own to build an 11-4 lead.

 The Bulldogs managed to cut the margin to 13-7, but Richlands won the final two points on an error by the Bulldogs and an ace by Lynch.  

 Despite the loss, Hurley has been pleased with the improvement shown by the Bulldogs, who will travel Tuesday to Carroll County.  

 “From the beginning of the season to now they have definitely came together as a team,” Hurley said. “We have a young team, we don’t have that many seniors. This is the first time for a lot of them to play together and some of our seniors, this is their first time playing.”

 Cordill contributed nine kills and 20 digs for Richlands, while Compton had eight kills and 14 assists. Lynch added 36 digs for the Blues, who will travel to Marion next Tuesday.

 “It was a fun match to watch,” Sparks said.  “It was rougher for a coach, but a good game for the fans though.”

 Bradshaw was especially active for Tazewell, leading in the Bulldogs in kills, while Haley Christian was also a solid hitter. Kincer contributed four aces, while Kaley Holloway, Kayla McCroskey, Whitney Saunders and Tabor also played big for the Bulldogs.

 “Haley (Bradshaw) really brought her ‘A’ game tonight, but all the girls did that,” said Hurley, who worked up a sweat in a hot gymnasium by pacing in front of the bench for the entire match. “We have players that love the sport and want to be here.”

— Contact Brian Woodson at

bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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