Nansemond River hits fifth place

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nansemond River junior outside hitter Adrian Drew targets a weak spot in the opposing defense during the Warriors' straight sets victory over the visiting Deep Creek Hornets on Tuesday night. Drew had a team-leading eight blocks to go with 10 kills.

The Nansemond River boys’ volleyball team joined the echelon of teams above .500 after a 25-20, 28-26, 25-21 home win over Deep Creek on Tuesday night.

The Warriors (9-8, 8-8) were part of some impressive and lengthy volleys during a spirited match, and senior middle blocker Daniel Clark knew what made the difference.

“Not giving up,” he said. “We were all hitting the floor. Everybody has banged up knees a little bit, but it’s worth it. I mean, we all hit the floor and got everything over that we needed to.”

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The second set was especially dramatic. The game was tied at 23-23 as well as every point after that through 26, with each team holding the lead and serving to win the set at given moments.

“I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to play four games,’” Warriors coach James Vann said.

This was the Warriors’ second meeting with the Hornets this season. The first took Nansemond River four sets to win, but this time it only took three. Vann analyzed what accounted for the improvement.

“We didn’t get down on ourselves,” he said. “We pretty much learned that we’ve got to have amnesia after every play. Just forget it and let’s move on. We had a little struggle with that earlier. But we just keep keeping each other up and keep playing hard.”

Vann spotlighted his seniors as having made key contributions for the win.

“I would have to say Tucker Rhoads again and Nate Welch, our libero — he just keeps digging,” he said. “Graeme Beamen also. Those three seem to just pull through when we need them almost every match.”

Rhoads had 10 kills and Welch had 23 digs. Senior setter Nick Seibert had 20 assists.

The evening volleyball games were used to help promote National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and both Nansemond River and Deep Creek incorporated pink into their apparel. Warriors’ junior outside hitter Adrian Drew was energized by the special nature of the occasion.

“I felt pretty good; the crowd was in it,” he said. “Just the atmosphere got me hyped, ready to play.”

Drew led the team with eight blocks, and he also tied with Rhoads for the team lead with 10 kills.

Young Nansemond River defensive specialists freshman Bailey Rountree and sophomore Ben Leonard benefited from a move by Coach Vann.

“I tried to get some other kids in tonight and let them serve, play the back row a little bit,” Vann said.

The team’s relative youth and inexperience is why Vann figured a season at .500 would represent a good year.

“Of the players that are starting, only one of them (Welch) actually started last year, so everybody’s pretty much new,” he said. “I didn’t cut anybody, intentionally, so they could hopefully learn the game for next year.”

Despite these circumstances, this young, short and scrappy team is in position to qualify for the district tourney.

“We’re in fifth right now of 10 (teams in the district),” Vann said. “The top six go in.”

The Warriors face King’s Fork tonight on the road and close out the regular season at home on Monday against Western Branch.