No. 1 Hickory ends River’s run

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011

CHESAPEAKE — Nansemond River’s girls volleyball squad proved it could play with anyone in the Southeastern District after starting this season 0-7.

Beating No. 1-seeded Hickory, which came into the tournament after going 18-0 through the Southeastern regular season, was a different matter than playing with the Lady Hawks. A contest with wild swings in it had more on the side of No. 1 Hickory than No. 5 Nansemond River as the Lady Hawks won 25-10, 19-25, 25-21, 25-16.

Nansemond River’s Jasmine Arthur hits over the net as the Lady Warriors played Hickory in the Southeastern District Tournament semifinals Tuesday evening at Oscar Smith. Hickory beat the Lady Warriors 25-10, 19-25, 25-21, 25-16. It was Nansemond River’s first appearance in the SED Tournament since 1996.

The Lady Hawks blitzed the Lady Warriors at times. Hickory ran out to a 17-3 lead in the opening set. In the third set, Hickory led 19-2 and was still leading 24-11 before a huge Lady Warrior rally made for a close set.

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“(Hickory) has amazing talent,” said Nansemond River head coach Deidra Rader. “At some point, though, we still have to be smart enough to side out, even when we’re facing a server who’s impeccable.”

“Hickory has two excellent servers and they served at the starts of sets one and three,” Rader said.

The second set was the only one of the night where the Lady Hawks didn’t grab a huge lead right away.

The Lady Warriors led 9-4 before a 9-1 Hickory run seemed to put the undefeated top seed in great shape, perhaps for a sweep.

“The girls still chose not to lie down. They played every point and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Rader said.

Nansemond River ran off six straight points on Morgan Lowers’ service to make it 18-14 NR. Courtney Lowers nailed a kill off an errant Hickory pass for a 16-14 NR lead. Tatyana Thomas scored with a block on the next point.

The Lady Warriors kept Hickory at bay by at least two points through the rest of the set. Courtney Lowers put a kill down for a side out to 19-16 NR. Hickory missed a serve to make it 21-18 NR.

As quickly as the Lady Warriors had more than enough momentum, Hickory’s serving, hitting and blocking took all of it back. Hickory won the first 12 points of the third set. It was 19-2 Lady Hawks before Nansemond River answered.

Even with the Lady Warriors getting back to their game, Hickory led 24-11 when the Lady Warriors got a side out to save one set point and bring up Courtney Lowers’ service.

The Lady Warriors kept going to stave off nine more set points. Lowers served a couple aces in the run. Hickory helped out with a few uncharacteristic unforced errors.

The Lady Warriors thought they had Hickory’s margin down to two, but a block by Thomas was called a lift, giving the clinching point to Hickory.

The Lady Hawks took a 7-1 lead in the fourth set. Nansemond River limited the rally compared to sets one and three. Trading points the rest of the way wasn’t good enough to turn the match around.

Morgan Lowers finished with 19 assists and six kills. Courtney Lowers had 15 kills and three aces. Thomas had three blocks.

Nansemond River (10-12) reached the district tournament for the first time since 1996. This was Rader’s first season with the Lady Warriors.

“I’ve still been with them only three months. The girls had never run an offense or a serve receive like I taught them and we started 0-7 because it was complicated,” Rader said, “but I’m proud with how they learned and latched on because it turned out to be the reason for our success.”