Braves prevail over Nansemond River

Published 11:17 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

CHESAPEAKE — Following the match Nansemond River and Indian River battled for three weeks ago, with Nansemond River prevailing in a 38-36 fourth set, it was fitting the Southeastern District’s two Rivers would square off in an elimination game in the district tournament.

Nansemond River’s Zach Vann hit a team-high 16 kills but Indian River outlasted the Warriors for a five-set win, 25-20, 18-25, 21-25, 27-25, 15-11, in the first round of the Southeastern District Tournament Thursday night at Oscar Smith. The Warriors finish the season 12-8.

Nansemond River got within two points of victory in the fourth set but couldn’t finish off the Braves. From an 11-11 tie in the final set, Indian River won the last four points to advance to the district’s final four, winning 25-20, 18-25, 21-25, 27-25, 15-11.

A wild, back-and-forth match was how it had to be for the Warriors and Braves.

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Indian River beat the Warriors in four sets in the schools’ first meeting this season, dropping NR to 2-4 in the district at that point.

Nansemond River’s victory at Indian River was part of a six-match winning streak to end NR’s regular season, a streak the Warriors needed to reach the district tournament.

When Indian River gained the upper hand over the Warriors in Thursday’s third chapter, it was the Brave blocking and digging, overall defensive hustle, that was the difference.

The Warriors found their attacking rhythm early in the opening set and held a 16-12 lead before NR’s offense dried up, due more to Indian River covering the whole floor than anything more the Warriors could do. The Braves went on an 11-2 run to turn NR’s lead into a 23-18 Brave lead.

The Warriors controlled much of the action through the next three sets.

In set two, the Warriors rolled off seven straight points, with Zach Vann’s hitting leading the way, to take a 17-12 lead.

Vann spiked down five kills in the second set. Brent Tomovik, Michael Copeland and John Joyce joined in the attacking over the net as well. Copeland’s blocking sparked the key Warrior rally to claim the third set.

Indian River led 16-13 before the Warriors fought back to an 18-all score. A solo block by Copeland made it 20-19 NR. Copeland scored three blocks and altered the IR hitting on many more points in the set.

Vann jump-served an ace for a 23-20 NR lead and Tyler Brown, instead of his usual set to a teammate, pushed a kill over the net for the next point.

The Warriors seemed to be rallying at the right time to win the match in set four. Brown set up big kills by Vann, Ryan Berrier and Copeland through the middle of the game as the Warriors kept pace with the Braves.

A Copeland spike followed by two consecutive Indian River misfires gave NR a 21-17 lead. NR held a 23-22 lead. The Braves took the next two points.

The Warrior fended off the IR set point. Vann knocked down a kill to end a crazy point that included NR libero Nate Welch making a full-dive dig, then Tomovik’s shoulder keeping a deflected Brave spike alive, eventually leading to Vann’s hit.

The Braves won the last two points, with Vann missing a serve then a Brave kill.

Indian River led or was tied throughout the tiebreaker set. The Warriors fought back from an 8-4 deficit to ties at 9-9 and 11-11.

As quickly as the Warriors thought they had the momentum to claim the match, the Braves got a big spike for a kill, followed by a block, making the score 13-11 IR.

Vann led NR’s hitting with 16 kills. Tomovik added eight kills. Copeland had five kills and five blocks. Brown finished with 31 assists. Vann, Tomovik, Copeland and Brown are among the nine seniors who played their last matches as Warriors.

The Warriors end the season finishing fourth in the district regular season standings and 12-8 overall.