Lady Saints make first tourney title a dramatic one
&uot;Just one point at a time.&uot;
Yes it’s a clich\u00E9, but that’s what Minka Foster and the rest of the Nansemond-Suffolk’s girls’ volleyball team were telling themselves on Saturday night when Walsingham had four separate match point chances to upset the top-seeded Lady Saints and win the TCIS Tournament.
The clich\u00E9 was good advice because NSA dramatically, in front of a frantic mostly-home crowd, fended each point off, and then up 16-15 in game five, Jaclyn Ramsey’s ace was the final, championship-winning point as NSA won their first conference tournament title ever.
Kristen Nuckles, named a co-MVP of the tournament, had 45 assists; Foster, the other co-MVP, had 20 kills, as NSA won 25-23, 19-25, 25-19, 14-25, 17-15.
Walsingham took the early lead in all five games; in the opener, that lead was 6-2.
Michelle Boucher quickly served NSA back to a 6-6 tie and a Foster kill made it 8-7 NSA.
The margin remained within a point or two until Nuckles, who in addition to her usual setting, ended up with an unusual 10 kills on the night, put down her third kill of game one to put NSA ahead, 18-17.
NSA took the next two points and still had a three-point lead at 24-21 before Walsingham fought off two game points.
At 24-23, right off the serve, NSA got a good pass by Foster, a good set by Nuckles, and a spike by Jade Bishop to win game one.
Walsingham got out to a 7-2 lead in game two.
This time, Walsingham kept rolling right over the Lady Saints.
Walsingham led by as much as 21-10 at one point.
At that point in the game, NSA had committed just four errors; that’s how efficient and excellent the hitting and defense both were for the Lady Trojans through game two.
The Lady Trojans led early in game three, but NSA rallied this time.
Nuckles won two straight points with dinks, instead of her usual sets, on two; then Nuckles set for Foster, who hammered down a kill, making it a 9-7 NSA lead.
With the game tied, 13-13, NSA went on a 7-2 run.
Bishop, Boucher and Nuckles each had one kill in the run, but the Nuckles-to-Foster plan worked for three kills.
Boucher took over the last few points of the game, getting a kill for point 23, a block at the center of the net for point 24, and another kill for game point.
Boucher would finish with 11 kills and three blocks on the night.
With singing from the NSA student section between games three and four, the title celebration seemed close, but Walsingham didn’t agree with that.
Once again, the Lady Trojans opened up a lead right away, this time a 12-6 lead.
NSA rallied for a 5-0 run on Foster’s serve to get to within a point, but Walsingham had their own 5-0 run in response, for a 17-11 lead.
Walsingham continued to roll through the rest of game four and still had all the momentum on their side into the decisive game, opening up a 5-0 lead that was a huge margin in a race to 15.
A kill by Bishop stopped the Walsingham run but NSA mostly traded points with Walsingham until the Lady Trojans had a 13-8 lead.
Two Walsingham errors on Alex Westfall’s serve and then a Nuckles kill of a Boucher pass cut the lead to 13-11.
With the fans on both sides going crazy, not only on every point, but seemingly with every dig, pass and hit, Walsingham put down a kill, bringing up three chances at match point.
Digs by Foster and Boucher kept a long rally alive and Walsingham
put a hit into the net.
With Foster serving, an ace killed off match point no. 2.
A Walsingham error, a shot just wide of the left sideline, made it 14-14.
Walsingham retook the lead and got a fourth match point when Bishop put a spike into the net.
The Lady Trojan serve was wide right though, making it 15-15.
Coach Shane Foster subbed libero/serving specialist Ramsey into the match.
The NSA students have entitled Ramsey’s serve as the &uot;sonic boom&uot; but the Lady Trojans had little trouble with Ramsey’s serve.
Two diving digs turned the point around for NSA but two Boucher hits were met with Walsingham digs.
Finally, Nuckles set up Boucher again and this time her spike found the floor, making it 16-15 NSA.
Ramsey’s next &uot;sonic boom&uot; was in, just inside the baseline.
The Lady Saints celebrated and the student section emptied onto the court.
Co-MVP and the TCIS regular season Player of the Year, Foster said, a good 15 minutes after the match, &uot;My heart’s still pounding.&uot;
Foster gave credit to her main setter, Nuckles, saying, &uot;She did amazing.
Everyone’s passing at first was shaky, but she settled everything down.
We never would have done it without her setting.&uot;
&uot;We were shaky because we knew how much pressure was on us because this was our first TCIS championship.
But we worked together and pulled through it together.&uot;
During the desperate points in game five the six Lady Saints on the court continued talking after each point.
&uot;We were saying and thinking, just get to the next point, and then the next point,&uot; said Foster.
For Walsingham, Felicia Flaum, Hope Leatigaga and Kelly Korkowski were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Lady Trojans will be one of the top-seeded teams in the VIS Division 2 State Tournament.
In addition to Foster and Nuckles, Boucher was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Nuckles is a first-team All-TCIS selection for the season and Boucher made the second team.
The Lady Saints (25-2) will have one more home match for their season, Tuesday night in the first round of the Div. 1 State Tournament.