Heartbreaking end

Published 11:19 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nansemond River’s boys volleyball team got to within one point of reaching the Southeastern District Tournament final and a spot into the Eastern Region Tournament on Wednesday night at Oscar Smith against Western Branch.

In a match full of big momentum swings, the No. 3 Bruins had the definitive one over the No. 2 Warriors in the semifinal contest. Western Branch scored six of the last seven points, including three NR match points, to win the fourth set and WB led throughout the fifth set to take both Thursday’s SED final and a regional tournament spot away from Nansemond River. WB prevailed by the score of 25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 26-24, 15-13.

The Warriors beat Western Branch both times, both in three-set sweeps, during the regular season.

For most of the opening set, nothing looked organized or easy for the Warriors and Western Branch built a 22-10 lead. The Warriors showed their first signs of life in rallying with eight straight points on Cheynne Maupin’s service. NR fought off three set points before the Bruins got the kill they needed on their fourth set point.

The second set was headed for the Bruin column, too, with the Warriors still struggling to find their attacking and blocking, which had been so athletic for most of the season. Western Branch led 20-17, but this margin was close enough for the Warriors to overcome.

Josh Howard set up a kill by Hayden Champigny to bring NR within a point and Champigny and Kyle Briesemeister both had great saves to keep the following point alive until a Bruin error made it 20-20. A push shot by Maupin fell just inside the back corner for a kill to put NR up 21-20. The Warriors kept going for an 8-1 run to finish and take the second set.

NR put together a 6-2 run midway in the third set to take the lead at 14-12. NR led the rest of the set, but it was certainly not without drama at the end.

The Warriors scored points 21 and 22, building their lead to 22-18, on shots the Bruins thought were out. WB fought back to within a 23-22 NR lead. The teams traded errors and a solo block at the center of the net by Kerrington Harris clinched the set and gave NR the lead in the match.

Another long rally on Maupin’s service, this time six straight NR points, gave the Warriors a 15-10 lead in the fourth set.

The Bruins closed in again, but the Warriors kept a narrow lead. Kills by Maupin, Howard and Briesemeister got critical side outs for the Warriors on points that would’ve been tying points WB had they gone for the Bruins. A block by Champigny and Hayden pushed NR’s lead to 23-20 and a timeout by the Bruins was followed by the Warriors’ biggest release of emotion on the night.

The Warriors got to 24-21 and had three match points. The Bruins won each one and kept going, with back-to-back fouls called on the Warriors giving WB points 25 and 26 to decide the set.

A 7-0 Bruin run put WB up 9-4 in the deciding set. NR answered with four straight points, but NR wouldn’t draw even the rest of the set.

At 13-12 WB, the Warriors thought they had a kill with a shot by Champigny maybe being tipped by a Bruin on its way beyond the baseline. That wasn’t the call though and WB had match point at 14-12. Two points later, a Bruin kill sealed the match.

Howard finished with 31 assists for the Warriors. Briesemeister had 15 kills and Maupin had 10 kills. Champigny finished with five blocks.

Nansemond River finishes the season with a 16-5 overall record.