Warriors push No. 1 Great Bridge to five games

Published 11:25 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A couple evenings ago, Nansemond River needed a win in a tiebreaker match over Hickory to make the field for the Southeastern District Boys Volleyball Tournament.

On Wednesday against top-seeded Great Bridge, the Warriors pushed the district’s regular season champion to the limit. Nansemond River had a 2-games-to-1 lead and a 18-13 edge in game four before the Wildcats (19-1) rallied to win the last two games and advance to the district final, 25-18, 21-25, 24-26, 25-21, 15-11.

The Wildcats out-spiked the Warriors throughout the opening game, taking a lead of 11-4 to start and not really facing a serious threat from that point on.

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NR’s Cheynne Maupin and Josiah Cubol sparked their side early in game two. It was Cubol’s setting and Maupin’s spiking which turned the tide. The Warriors gained a clear advantage as the second game moved on with one more ingredient, their ability to block against Great Bridge’s hitters.

From a 15-11 GB lead, a 9-2 NR run turned the momentum around. A block by the double-team of Dan Archibald and Kerrington Harris gave NR an 18-17 lead. On the next two points, Great Bridge hitters were challenged by double-team blocking and they hit long.

Blocks by Hayden Champigny, the Warriors’ leading blocker through most of the season, then on the next point by Maupin, built a 24-20 NR lead. Cubol had six assists in game two while Maupin had four kills.

Wildcat errors were the story of game three as 21 of NR’s 26 points came via Great Bridge errors. From a 19-19 score, the Warriors rattled off five straight points, which included a block by Kyle Briesemeister and two kills by Harris.

The Wildcats fought off all five game points as closing out the game proved a nervous task for the underdogs. At 24-24, a spike by Briesemeister sailed long, but a call for a Great Bridge player in the net gave the point to the Warriors. On NR’s sixth attempt at a game point, another Wildcat error finished the game.

Great Bridge jumped out to a 7-2 lead in game four only for NR to rally and tie the match at 13-13. NR’s rally kept rolling along for five more points to an 18-13 lead.

The Wildcats put together an 8-0 run to retake the lead and that lead stood up to force a fifth game. Six straight Wildcat points put GB up 9-4 in the final game.

The Warriors fought back within a point on two occasions. A Cubol-to-Briesemeister kill made it 11-10 GB, then another Cubol-to-Briesemeister point made it 12-11 GB.

The top-seeded Wildcats held it together from there to finish the match. Tim Fitzpatrick led Great Bridge with 53 assists. Ryan Iaquinto had 21 kills and Shane Popelka had 12 kills and seven blocks for the Wildcats.

For the Warriors, Cubol had 15 assists and Archibald had 10 assists. Maupin had 10 kills and four blocks. Briesemeister had eight kills.

“We had our best matches when it counted, toward the end of the season,” said Nansemond River head coach Gene Lietz. The Warriors (13-8) went 6-2 in their last eight matches, including two wins against Hickory and a win against Lakeland which were all critical to NR catching Hickory.

“The boys showed they can play right with anyone,” said Lietz.

“Our squad really proved they’re worthy of being ranked in a high spot in Hampton Roads.”

The Warriors will have five seniors graduate from this year’s squad. Both of Lietz’s setters, Cubol and Archibald, are seniors who played their last match Wednesday. Josh Howard, who played as NR’s libero and was used as a substitute for his defense and strong serving, is already Lietz’s choice to take over that position next season.

“We’ll have all our main hitters back next year, so we won’t lose anything in our attack.”