Lady Saints jump to 5-0 start

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s girls’ volleyball team has opened the season with five straight wins, including defeating Walsingham on Wednesday in straight games — 25-21, 25-14, 25-19 — and Portsmouth Christian on Thursday.

“Where we are right now is farther along than we’ve ever been at the three-week mark,” Lady Saints coach Robyn Ross said.

Junior hitter Kaylor Nash had 27 kills, six aces, five blocks and eight digs in Wednesday’s win. Senior setter Quinby Hines helped arrange most of Nash’s kills with 36 assists to go with one ace and seven digs.

Email newsletter signup

“Kaylor was the biggest difference,” Ross said. “She has the ability to take over a game, hitting-wise, but before she can ever get the ball to her hands, somebody’s got to pass it to Quinby, and Quinby’s got to set it.”

Ross, who is beginning her third year as coach, has been happy with the group’s ability to play together.

“The thing that I love the most about this team so far is that they just play great as a team,” she said.

She particularly praises the passing as the key to their success.

“That’s how we’ve won our matches so far, is really defensive passing, and then, after you do those things, that makes it easy for the setter to put the ball in the right hands and finish the point,” she said.

The team this year features only three returning starters with several sophomores, juniors, and two seniors, and yet it has yielded the best start in years.

“And I would say it’s because most of the girls played club (volleyball) and so they’ve been playing year-around,” Ross said. “It’s the youngest, but the most experienced team that I’ve had.”

Ross credits the seniors for leading the younger girls and also the presence of Nash, whose play helps relieve some of the pressure the younger players would otherwise feel.

Nash’s dominance on the court is not a source of contention among her teammates, though.

“Kaylor may get the most kills,” Ross said, “but you wouldn’t know that by watching them walk around or listening to them talk. There’s no drama, which is unusual for a girls team, and they all get along and support each other on and off the court.”

The team is not without its areas of needed improvement, but one habit it has formed has provoked a mixed reaction from their coach.

“One of the best things and not-so-great things that I’ve noticed out of them that we’ve never been able to do before is they like to come out and spot the other team (some points),” she said sarcastically. “Like last night in the first game against Walsingham, it was 9-0 before we decided to, ‘Oh, we’re going to play this volleyball game.’ Then, to come back and rally score from nine points down to win, it is really good in my eyes because of how young they are.”

One part of the team’s game that Ross hopes to enhance is its blocking ability.

“I’d like for our girls to be a bigger threat blocking, and that just comes with working on it,” she said. “It’s probably one of the hardest skills in volleyball to learn how to do.”

In any given match, Ross has been confident in the Lady Saints’ ability to win, but she tries to keep them from looking too far in the future, because losing focus can mean defeat in the present.

“So, I don’t think there’s anybody that they can’t beat,” she said. “But we don’t try and think about winning TCIS or state or anything like that. I just want to win the next game we’re going to play.”