Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

August 28, 2012

Dogs sweep G-Girls

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Like the workings of a delicate watch, the teamwork of the Tazewell Bulldogs volleyball team ticked its way to a three-set sweep of the Graham G-Girls on Tuesday evening at the new gymnasium complex behind Graham High School.

After less than an hour of toil at the net, the green-clad girls from Tazewell (2-1) boarded their bus with a 25-10, 25-17, 25-16 decision.

“We have several leaders on the floor,” said Tazewell coach Kate Hurley. “They get that it’s about playing as a team, it’s not about individuals.”

The visitors never trailed in the first set, pulling away from a Graham offense that had trouble returning the ball consistently.

The momentum began to shift at the start of the second encounter, as Graham (0-2) ran off the first three points and gleefully huddled after each score.

Graham coach Jaime Bowman said, “I told them I was looking for six girls who can go out and give me a competent, competitive match.”

Neither team led by more than three points until Tazewell ran off four straight to take a 16-11 margin about halfway through. The Bulldogs’ Bre Holloway put a soft touch on the ball at the net, baffling the Graham defense for a 24-17 lead to bring up set point, and Kayla McCroskey fired an ace serve to wrap up the second set.

Tazewell’s Laura Kincer stood at the server’s position in the third set with the Bulldogs leading 4-3, and her teammates helped her to eight straight points.

During that sequence, Kaley Holloway slammed down a spike after an exciting 12-hit volley; Whitney Saunders placed a deceptive winner at the feet of a defender; and Kincer ended the run with an ace serve for a commanding 12-3 lead.

A late Graham rally got the crowd roaring, but the Bulldogs held on for the best-of-three decision.

Hurley said, “They were playing their game. When they come to play, and work as a team, they will rise to the occasion.”

One of the hardest servers on Tazewell’s team, Haley Christian, said it wasn’t always that way.

The junior in her first varsity season said, “When I first came out, my serves were underhanded. Sloppy. Awful. But after awhile, it just came to me.”

Now, the team knows to expect positive results. She said, “When I do my routine to get ready to serve, I think it’s going to get over, and my team thinks it’s going to, too. My team has confidence in me.”

She has confidence in, and a bond with, her teammates as well. She said, “When we take the floor together, we’re sisters, we’re not teammates. I love them, all. I know when the ball comes to them, they’re going to do their best.”

Bowman said about Graham, “We are trying to rebuild this program. Teaching them the basics of volleyball has been our goal. They’ve been learning. ... The score tonight does not justify the game, because we do compete.”

Though Graham had 17 mis-serves and 11 dropped balls overall, Bowman said, “I’m pleased with their effort and competitiveness they had in the second and third sets.”

“They’re doing a very good job. They’ve just got to keep their heads up and keep pushing.”

Graham junior Emily Lewis said, “I felt we did really good.” Asked about the need for the G-Girls to play together, she said, “We’re still getting that together. We play better than that in practice. We just have to learn how to finish that out in the game.”

Both teams return to non-district action on Thursday. Graham travels to Giles and the Bulldogs host another Mountain Empire District team, Bland County, at Tazewell High School.

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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