New level is within River’s reach

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nansemond River senior Courtney Lowers hits past Grassfield blockers during Tuesday evening’s season-opening volleyball match at Nansemond River. Grassfield beat the Lady Warriors in four sets, 25-23, 15-25, 25-6, 25-8, in the first match for NR under new head coach Deidra Rader.

Nansemond River’s girls volleyball team showed what it’s capable of this season for the first two sets of Tuesday’s contest against visiting Grassfield.

For sets three and four, though, the Lady Warriors showed they have a ways to go if they want to reach the upper portion of the Southeastern District under new head coach Deidra Rader.

From within a couple points of being up 2-0 in the match, the Lady Warriors fell 23-25, 25-15, 25-6, 25-8 to Grassfield to start the new season.

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Rader comes to the Lady Warriors from a coaching background in club volleyball, typically a higher, more-competitive level than high school volleyball.

“It’s fun working and bringing girls up to that level,” Rader said.

Nansemond River’s level was impressive for part of the season opener. The Lady Warriors led through most of the opening set, coming out aggressive and energized in front of a loud home crowd.

NR’s passing went well, which meant freshman setter Morgan Lowers set accurately, mostly to her older sister, senior Courtney Lowers, early on.

From a 16-11 NR lead, Grassfield fought back to tie the game at 20. From a 23-23 score, Grassfield scored kills on the last two points of the game.

The Lady Warriors charged ahead with an 11-1 run, including a long service run by Courtney Lowers, to gain an 11-4 lead in the second set.

Tatyana Thomas, a sophomore center hitter, played a big role in the run as well with blocks and kills at the center of the net.

“Height is a strength for us,” Rader said. “I’m 5-11 and three of the girls are taller than I am.”

Grassfield closed within a two-point margin, 16-14, before the Lady Warriors took over again. Courtney Lowers slammed down two kills and Thomas scored another block in a rally to 21-14 NR and the Lady Warriors finished the set easily.

The Lady Grizzlies rolled off 14 straight points in taking a 17-1 lead in the third set, and the momentum didn’t switch back.

Rader had three weeks to work with her new squad leading into Tuesday’s match.

“We’ve been running long and efficient practices. They’re learning what I want on offense, learning the tempo I want and what kind of a coach I am,” Rader said.

The Lady Warrior height and athleticism makes for a promising team. Coming from the club level, though, Rader wants to bring that experience to NR’s program.

“We have good athletes on this team. We’re just getting them to play under control, to play with better ball control,” Rader said.

The Lady Warriors went 8-10 last season. Nansemond River hosts Great Bridge Thursday evening with the boys varsity match starting at 5 p.m. The girls junior varsity and varsity matches follow in the tripleheader.