Warriors force five, but can’t top Bruins

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gene Lietz looked pretty happy for a coach whose team had just lost a crucial Southeastern District boys volleyball game. But the Nansemond River High bench boss knew his squad had just sent a message despite its 5-game loss to visiting Western Branch.

“They showed they can play with the top teams,” Lietz said of his Warriors, who began the night tied with Hickory for fourth place in the district. “They know they belong and others are starting to take note.”

Additional attention will be paid if Nansemond River can secure fourth place and reach the district’s postseason tournament. But Tuesday’s 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 13-15 setback leaves the Warriors in a tenuous position regarding the standings.

Email newsletter signup

“I didn’t want to have to rely on other teams,” said Lietz, whose squad dropped to 10-7 overall and 9-7 in district play. “But hopefully what we showed tonight will carry over to our next match, against Lakeland.”

Nansemond River concludes the regular season by visiting the Cavaliers and hosting Oscar Smith and it seems pretty clear the Warriors must win both matches to reach the postseason. Lakeland won the teams’ first meeting in four games and Lietz admires them for their solid, disciplined play. It’s a style he’s trying to get his own team to emulate.

“We have good hitters with good verticals but they’re not particularly tall,” the coach said. “So a lot of times, we want to keep the ball in play, keep our hands up at the net and wait for the other team to make mistakes.”

The strategy worked well at times Tuesday, but the Warriors also committed unforced errors of their own and that doomed them in the end. Still, the contest was a rousing challenge to one of the district’s traditional powers and Lietz was thrilled that his team showed repeated resilience.

“Earlier in the season, we couldn’t have come back like we did tonight,” he said.

Kyle Briesemeister led Nansemond River with 13 kills, followed by Cheynne Maupin with 10. Hayden Champigny had six blocks and Maupin four while Western Branch (15-2, 15-1) received a combined 28 kills from Ethan Spruill and Chase Marchetti.