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W. Branch stays unbeaten in SED volleyball

The top two boys volleyball teams in the Southeastern District faced off Tuesday night at Lakeland. The fact that statement could be true “at Lakeland” would’ve seemed far-fetched only a couple seasons ago.

Last year’s Cavalier squad was the first in program history to reach the four-team district tournament and this fall’s team was off to a 7-1 start going into Tuesday.

Undefeated Western Branch is much more used to being among the Southeastern’s favorites.

On Tuesday, the Bruins held up to pressure early on by the Cavaliers and went on to easy wins in games two and three for a sweep, 29-27, 25-15, 25-12.

The Bruins also took advantage of two key Cavalier players who were benched for what Lakeland head coach Daniel Waller said, “was because of disciplinary reasons.”

Lakeland was missing Alex Brooks, who usually leads the Cavs in kills and blocks, and defensive specialist Christian Ehrenzeller.

“It was the biggest game of the year,” said Waller, “we’re disappointed, but some things are bigger than the game. Hopefully we will learn from our mistakes and we will have a better outing next time against Western Branch.”

The Bruins improved to 9-0 in the district and the Cavaliers dropped to 7-2 overall and in the district.

Game one was tense virtually the whole way as the two squads were tied at every point from 14 to 27.

Lakeland led in the early stages as the Cavs’ setter, Russell Carr, had success even without one of his primary hitters. He was able to set Scott Asbell and Taylor Bess for kills during the opening game and Lakeland’s usual hustling, diving defense kept the Cavs even with the Bruins.

A block by Asbell against a Bruin spike attempt gave Lakeland a game point at 24-23, but the Bruins got a kill to tie the match again. The Cavaliers fought off three game points until a Bruin kill finished the game 29-27.

The Bruins led comfortably through the last two games. After WB led 11-3 in game two, Lakeland got back to within two points at 13-11 WB before a 7-0 Bruin run.

In the final game, WB got out to leads of 10-4, then 16-8, and kept rolling from there.

“Our intensity in the last two games wasn’t there,” said Carr.

“In the first game, we had a lot of enthusiasm and we were playing well together. In the last two games, we just killed ourselves with mistakes,” said Carr.

“It’s one game down, but we’ve got more to go, so it’ll be alright.”

At 7-2 at the midpoint of the district schedule, the Cavaliers are still in solid shape to reach the district tournament.

Carr had 11 assists and three kills. Asbell and Bess finished with seven and five kills, respectively.

In the girls match at Lakeland on Tuesday, Western Branch swept the Lady Cavaliers 25-7, 25-8, 25-1.

The Lady Cavaliers (0-9) and Cavaliers go to King’s Fork on Thursday. In the second half of the district schedule, the girls and boys matches flip times, with the boys match starting the doubleheader at 5:30 p.m.