Warriors enjoy sweep over IR
The Nansemond River High boys volleyball team was midway through the third game of its Southeastern District match against visiting Indian River on Tuesday night when a scare developed. Senior Sean Duffy, who had just gone up at the net for a ball, came down awkwardly and lurched into a hideous, staggering gait as a rally developed.
Concern was evident in both the stands and on the Warriors bench, but it turned out Duffy’s heel had just popped out of his shoe and his ankles and knees were fine. Teammate Dan Archibald then launched into a quick impression of his buddy and relieved chuckling abounded.
The match’s result was also a laugher for Nansemond River, which dispatched the Braves 25-17, 25-23, 25-13. Kyle Briesemeister and Cheynne Maupin each had a game-high nine kills, Kerrington Harris had six and Hayden Champiney had four. Dean Ali had four kills and four blocks for Indian River and teammate Nick Goodman had six blocks for the Braves, who dropped to 2-3 overall and in district play.
The evening’s outcome was a far departure from Nansemond River’s four-game loss at Hickory on Monday, a contest Warriors coach Gene Lietz described as “ugly”, while noting that his team’s passing was “horrendous” and therefore its timing decidedly off.
“We came in this afternoon and worked a solid hour, mostly just on passing,” said Lietz, whose team improved to 4-2, 3-2. “It made a difference with better sets and guys being able to put the ball down.”
While Briesemeister and Maupin slugged away throughout the night, Lietz noted that Harris, in his first year of volleyball, and Champiney, in his second, have given Nansemond River genuine depth and power in the middle of the net.
The duo’s emergence has, in turn, generated more confidence, which Lietz felt was in short supply last season, his first with the Warriors after previously guiding district rival Deep Creek.
“Last year, if they got down in a match, they didn’t have a lot of fight in them,” Lietz said of a team that won nine times. “I’m working on getting this year’s team not to focus on the negative when they drop a few points.”
That principle would also benefit Nansemond River’s girls team, which was swept 25-10, 27-25, 25-22 by visiting Indian River. Poor serves, hitting into the net and hitting long were problems that plagued the Warriors all evening.
Indian River (2-3, 2-3) was led by hitter Kieara Avant, who’s also a basketball star. Her athleticism and powerful spikes were too much for the Warriors to handle and she finished with eight kills and six blocks.
The difference Avant makes for the Braves was evident in the match’s third game. Indian River 20-11 when Avant was taken out and saw its lead shrink to 22-20 before she was reinserted and carried her team the rest of the way.
The second game was the back-breaker for Nansemond River, which led 13-6 before falling into a 14-14 tie. The Warriors (0-6, 0-5) also led 24-22 but couldn’t close the game out. Freshman Courtney Lowers led the hosts with four kills.