By Allen Kha / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
MADISON – Every time Madison and William Monroe face off against each other, fireworks of some sort go off — it’s something everyone has come to expect out of one of Central Virginia’s most-intense rivalries.
Thursday evening in an in-conference volleyball matchup between the two Bull Run rivals, multiple sets of Madison fans were asked to leave the home gym, a situation that overshadowed a highly competitive 3-1 (25-11, 19-25, 25-14, 25-23) Mountaineer victory over the short-handed Dragons.
On an evening where both teams honored breast cancer awareness alongside many other schools in the Central Virginia area, Madison (14-4, 11-1 Bull Run) surged out to a quick 25-11 victory in the match’s first game.
Using solid play on defense and at the net, the Mountaineers used an 11-2 rally to run past the Dragons (5-13, 3-9) in the first game and looked like a sure bet to cruise past a William Monroe team that only had a handful of available substitutions.
“We were short-handed tonight, having players who had to step up in positions where they normally don’t play, having to have players step up as outside hitters,” Dragons coach Dee Hoffman said. “It probably affected us in the first game, but we grew into a rhythm. The effort was definitely there as well, which you’d expect in a game between us and Madison — that was fantastic.”
William Monroe grew into the match in the second half, competing with the Mountaineers point-for-point for the first half of the second game. After Madison used a strong blocking game to open a 15-10 lead, the Dragons embarked on a 15-4 rally — fueled primarily by their ability to force over-hit and long Madison spikes — to take the second game and tie the match at one game-a piece.
“You expect this when you go against a heated rival in an environment like tonight,” Mountaineers coach Lindsay Von Herbulis said. “We had a lot of unforced errors, and we weren’t playing up to our potential. At that point, we simply needed to regroup and gather our composure.”
William Monroe extended their momentum into the third game, battling tit-for-tat with Madison for an early 10-9 third-game lead.
With the score of the third game at 10-9 Dragons, three enthusiastic Madison fans — who had been cheering loudly all game — sitting near the front row of the William Monroe side of the court were asked to leave for being too noisy and disrupting Dragons players during their serve attempts.
With the arena charged from the referee’s decision, Madison embarked on an 8-0 run — with seven hard spikes in that eight point window — to take a 17-10 lead in the game.
Two more Madison fans were asked to leave by administrators at the behest of the lead referee with Madison leading 21-12 in the third game, forcing the Mountaineers administrators to delay the game for nearly eight minutes to calm down the highly-charged arena and warn the crowd about a potential Madison forfeiture stemming from a fan-induced red card.
“It was very unfortunate that both teams had to go through that,” Von Herbulis said. “Both teams tried to build momentum, and after those events we had to re-gather ourselves and try and play again, and tell ourselves that the match was under our control.”
Madison eventually closed out the third game 25-14, albeit under some antsy circumstances.
With the Mountaineers players apparently distracted by the surrounding circumstances, William Monroe jumped out to a 5-0 run to open the fourth game.
After Von Herbulis called a time out to regroup, the Mountaineers embarked on a 6-0 run to take a 6-5 lead in the fourth game, and a 13-6 run from there to take a 19-11 lead in the game.
The determined Dragons squad would not give up, however, using strong defense and set play to stage an 11-2 rally that closed Madison’s fourth-game lead to 22-21.
The Mountaineers held their composure to capture the fourth — and final — game 25-23, ending a nervy but exhilarating match between the two rivals.
Hoffman expressed pride about her team’s performance against one of the Bull Run’s best volleyball programs.
“Being able to take the second game, and go through all of the adversity both teams went through in the game… I couldn’t be more proud of the team right now. This game is something we will build upon,” Hoffman said.