Western gets past gritty Fluvanna

By Allen Kha / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor

PALMYRA — Even in a largely meaningless Jefferson District game, “The Shoebox” never fails to deliver in entertainment value.

Despite Western already having cliched the conference title last week and Fluvanna having secured a home date against Charlottesville Thursday in the first round of the JD tournament, Tuesday evening’s match between two of the District’s better sides was a physical, hard-fought, and occasionally testy 3-1 Warriors victory (25-17, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20). The win completed another unbeaten run through the JD regular season for Western Albemarle.

Fuelled by strong net play and defense, both teams traded points in the first game up to 13-13. With the score knotted at 13, Western’s outside hitter Katie Rossberg executed an off-speed spike. Two mispositioned Fluvanna players ran into each other trying to pancake the attack, giving the Warriors a 14-13 lead in the first game and flustering the Flucos as they tried to regain their composure.

After that point, Western embarked on a 11-4 run, using strong net play and blocking from Rossberg and Maggie Kooken to put the Fluvanna defense on its heels and win the game.

“We got out to a fast start tonight, and that’s important,” Western coach Jena McFaddin said. “Our net play and defense was strong, and I was pleased with that this evening.”

The Flucos would not be denied their moment against the District’s regular-season champions at home, however. After battling to a 9-9 score in the second game, Fluvanna capitalized on a string of Western mistakes to go on a 7-3 run.

Up 17-12 in the second game, the Flucos leaned on star player Hannah Miller to close out the second game. As Western charged back, Miller’s strong play at the net — in both blocking and attack — helped her team secure the second game 25-21.

“It was a hard-fought game match, and the girls came out and played hard. Played smart. There were plenty of positives tonight in our net play and defense,” Fluvanna coach Christi Harlowe-Garrett said.

Western bounced back in the third game, using strong attacking play — through numerous dips and cross-court shorts — to open the game on an 8-2 run. After trading the next 20 points, Fluvanna used strong net play from Miller and outside hitter Taylor Beck to close the Warriors’ lead to 22-19.

The visiting Warriors eventually took control and pulled the game out at 25-20 with strong play from the middle hitting pair of Kooken and Rossberg. Western went on to win the final game 25-20 in similar fashion.

“There were definitely inconsistent moments from our team in the match, and plenty of unforced errors. But we can work on those,” McFaddin said.

Fluvanna pointed similarly to inconsistency in its game.

“There were times where we could have had better luck, but the game is what it is,” Harlowe-Garrett said. “We needed to be more consistent. We just weren’t able to quell their swings of momentum, and that’s important.”

Kooken and Rossberg combined for 32 kills and 12 blocks on the evening, while Western libero Marin Crowder added 20 digs.

Miller had 11 kills and 9 blocks on the evening for Fluvanna.