After a dominating first set and strong play late in the second, the Roxboro Community School varsity volleyball team found itself 25 points away from sweeping archrival Voyager Academy on Wednesday night at the Dog House.
The Vikings had other ideas, stealing set three behind a plethora of Bulldog errors.
Voyager scored the first two points of the fourth, then RCS responded with a 7-0 run and ultimately won in a 25-10, 25-20, 25-27, 25-16, tightly-contested battle with its archrival.
“I think tonight was a really interesting game,” Bulldogs (6-3, 2-0) head coach Hayden Rigsbee said. “We’re still learning to play our best every point. I’m really stressing to the girls that, if they don’t play their best, they will not enjoy the outcome.”
“I feel like we worked together very well in the first and second sets,” RCS middle blocker/Voyager transfer Kynlee Brooks said. “That third set, I think we got in our heads. It was a roller coaster. We finally got in the fourth set and pushed it through.”
RCS found itself up 23-20 in the third set, needing just two points to complete the sweep. The Bulldogs overcame three deficits to take the late lead, thanks to a trio of Peyton Hogan kills and a block/kill each from Brooks.
RCS then committed five errors, including a net violation that gave Voyager (3-2, 1-2) set point. The Vikings ended the set on Gabrielle Jeffers’ lone block, then ran up the Dog House stairs in celebration.
“They did get complacent late in the third set,” Rigsbee said of her players. “They thought Voyager was going to hand it to them on a silver platter. Hopefully, that’s a lesson learned for the reason of the season.”
RCS committed 50 errors throughout the night, including 21 in the third-set loss.
“We had a lot of errors hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds,” Rigsbee said. “I think that we also had some service errors. I try and stress to my team, ‘we’re going to commit mistakes, which is okay.’ When we make a lot in one set, however, that’s a lot of points we give up.”
The Bulldogs appeared well on their way to a blowout victory after set one, particularly when it turned a 5-all tie into a 12-5 lead.
Brooks blocked two of her game-high five attacks, Hogan slammed down four of her game-high 13 kills, while Delayna Welch and Jenna Hogan combined for five aces.
“It was definitely very different playing against Voyager because all those girls are my friends,” Brooks said. “We’ve all had that connection since Kindergarten. So coming here (to RCS) and playing them, I just had to put a face on.”
The Bulldogs trailed in set two, 13-12, only for Sydney Adkins to slam down one of her 11 kills and spark another seven-point swing. RCS never trailed again in the second.
“I think Sydney made some really good adjustments tonight,” Rigsbee said. “Sydney has been very good seeing holes and open sports on the court, whether she’s hitting the ball hard, giving a deep shot or changing tips and soft rolls. She’s always been good at that and leading by example.”
The Bulldogs also forced 21 Viking errors in those first two sets, something Rigsbee cited for her team’s strong early play.
“Once Voyager cleaned up their game, we didn’t have room for unforced errors or, more so, controlled mistakes that could have been avoided,” Rigsbee said. “That really showed in the third set, when we started making a lot of mistakes.”
The Bulldogs cut down on their mistakes out of the huddle, only committing seven in the deciding fourth set.
They faced an early deficit, then never trailed again after a Sydney Adkins kill made it 3-2.
“I think that fire in the fourth set was caused by a mindset the girls had for themselves,” Rigsbee said. “They knew what needed to be done. We (coaches) always tell the girls, until you guys believe in yourselves and do those things, it doesn’t matter what we say. Between them wanting to win in the fourth set and attempting to earn their points in the third, that made a difference.”
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