No. 1 Snails end NSA’s run

Published 12:23 am Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk sophomore Kaylor Nash hits during Friday night’s semifinal in the Virginia Independent Schools State Tournament. The Lady Saints fell to No. 1 Madeira from McLean. The Lady Snails won 25-8, 25-23, 25-18.

RICHMOND — Nansemond-Suffolk’s volleyball team knew they were in for a tall task in the state semifinals on Friday, figuratively and literally.

“In practice on Wednesday, I stood on chairs and held up chairs. We tried to simulate the blocking we’d see tonight and I was hitting as hard as I could at them,” said Nansemond-Suffolk head coach Robyn Ross.

The unique practice was in preparation for No. 1-seeded The Madeira School and a Lady Snail lineup that is tall and athletic at every position, led by 6-foot senior outside hitter and Duke-committed Breanna Atkinson.

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The No. 4 Lady Saints (21-9) bounced back from a nervous start but it wasn’t enough to turn around the match. The Lady Snails (28-2) advanced to the championship with a 25-8, 25-23, 25-18 win, Madeira‘s 26th consecutive victory.

Madeira took charge of the opening set with an 9-0 run out to a 10-2 lead and didn’t slow a bit from there.

The Lady Saints helped out by struggling to pass Snail serves. NSA’s attack didn’t get going and the few times a Saint hitter got a good chance, a Snail blocker, or usually two or three of them, were waiting.

Senior Tori Dail and sophomore Kaylor Nash started putting down some kills early in the second set.

Madeira made a 7-2 run for a 17-11 lead. NSA rallied back and had an opportunity to tie the match after the one-sided first set.

A Nash ace made it 19-18 Lady Snails. Dail hit a push shot around two Madeira blockers for a kill on the next point. Madeira hit into the net on the next points for a 20-19 NSA lead.

The Lady Snails won four of the next five points. Dail hit another kill, this time a spike off a blocker and out, followed by Quinby Hines serving an ace, to make it 23-23.

Hines missed long on her next serve. Madeira took set point with another block on a big hit by Dail.

The Lady Snails finished with six blocks but a higher number of plays affected by their ability at the net, including plenty of blocks that led to scrambling digs by the Lady Saints.

Dail, Nash, senior libero Morgan Daughtry and senior back row player Sarah Leggett made digs against huge Snail spikes. Some of those points went in NSA’s favor, but not enough.

NSA led 5-3 to open the third set. Madeira rolled off six straight points from there and led the rest of the way. NSA closed from 16-10 to 16-14 but couldn’t get closer.

Dail, in the last match of an all-conference and all-state four-year career, led the Lady Saints with 14 kills. Nash added nine kills, two blocks and two aces. Hines had 22 assists.

Madeira, from McLean, gets to play for its first state championship. The Lady Snails won the Independent School League championship, a conference of Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. schools, and the Washington D.C. city championship this season.

“The girls believed and they had their moments of greatness tonight, which was really fun to watch,” Ross said.

The Lady Saints lose five seniors, Dail, Daughtry, Leggett, Kela Bogaard and Marina Schaubach.