Warriors outlast River rival

Published 12:38 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

Nansemond River’s Tyler Brown reacts to the match-winning point as the Warriors won a 74-point final set to win 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 38-36 at Indian River on Thursday. The Braves turned away seven Warrior match points before the Warriors (9-7, 8-7) got the clinching point.

CHESAPEAKE — It took eight cracks at match points, but Nansemond River’s boys volleyball team finally prevailed in an incredible 38-36 fourth set for an important Southeastern District win Thursday night at Indian River, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 38-36.

“(Indian River) beat us in our house. It was back when we were still finding our groove,” said first-year Warrior head coach Michael Blei.

“We needed to come out tonight and prove we could hang with them,” Blei said.

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The four-set loss to the Braves dropped the Warriors to a 3-4 record. Since then, the Warriors have won six of nine matches. Turning the tables against the Braves gives Nansemond River an 8-7 record in the Southeastern District.

“This was already the most intense the guys have played all year before the fourth game, but that was the most intense play I’ve ever seen,” Blei said.

The Braves set the tone early. Indian River’s hitting and blocking controlled the action. NR’s Michael Copeland and John Joyce combined for seven kills in the first set but the hosts frustrated the Warriors with blocking against the Warrior hitters and hitting many kills off of Warrior block attempts.

The Warriors talked about adjusting their blocking with each timeout, often with each pause between points.

Copeland and Tyler Brown blocked IR spike tries on back-to-back points for a 12-11 NR lead in set two. The Braves rallied and regained a 16-13 lead. The Warriors answered with a 7-1 run and the energy put forth by both teams only increased throughout the rest of the match.

Zach Vann put a kill off a Brave blocker for a sideout and a 21-18 Warrior lead. Brown, who totaled 30 assists as NR’s main setter, scored with a kill for point 24 and Ryan Berrier’s ace took the set for the Warriors.

Indian River led early in the next set only for another Warrior surge to turn things around. The Warriors rolled off four straight points for a 12-10 lead. NR led the rest of the set, but not by much.

From a 23-18 NR lead, the Braves struck for four straight points. Brown set up a big spike by Vann, off a Brave blocker and down for a kill, for a 24-22 NR lead.

Indian River answered with a kill before Copeland got the clinching point with another block.

From a 17-17 tie in the fourth set, the Warriors won three straight points. Nansemond River kept pushing the Braves’ backs to the wall with a kill by Joyce for a 22-18 lead and a net violation on Indian River made it 24-20.

The Warriors had solved Indian River’s blocking efforts through most of sets two, three and four, only for Brave blocks to stave off back-to-back match points, making it 24-23 NR. A Brave spike made it 24-24.

Vann scored a kill for a fifth Warrior match point at 25-24. Berrier put a kill down for match point six at 26-25 NR. A push shot, instead of a set, by Brown, went inches long to make it 26-26.

NR had a seventh match point at 29-28 and another Brave block claimed the point.

The advantage shifted to the Braves, who had numerous points to force a fifth set.

Joyce scored a kill to fight one Brave set point off. Copeland knocked down a kill to make it 33-33. Joyce scored again to make it 35-35. A couple errant Brave serves helped along the way, only for a Warrior miss on the next serve returning the favor.

“It was a heart attack waiting to happen,” Blei said.

After a serving error by the Braves made it 36-36, the Braves missed with a spike bringing up NR’s eighth match point.

A Brown set and spike by Vann, his team-high 13th of the night, gave the Warriors the victory.

Brown had nine kills and two blocks along with his assists, 10 of which were in the last set. Joyce had 10 kills and three blocks. Copeland had eight kills and five blocks. Berrier had seven kills and six blocks.

The Warriors (9-7, 8-7) won three matches in four days this past week. NR goes to Deep Creek on Tuesday evening.