NSA holds against E. Mennonite

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nansemond-Suffolk girls' volleyball head coach Robyn Ross advises her team as it trails visiting Eastern Mennonite by a point during the first set on Tuesday night. The Lady Saints recovered for a 26-24, 25-23, 25-17 straight sets victory in the first round of the VISAA Division 2 state tournament.

Seventh-ranked Eastern Mennonite hung tough against the second-seeded Nansemond-Suffolk varsity girls’ volleyball team for a while, but the Lady Saints ran away with it in the end, winning 26-24, 25-23 and 25-17 at home in the quarterfinal round of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 2 state tournament.

Last week, NSA was surprised by Norfolk Academy, which eliminated the Saints from the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament. Despite the disappointment of this loss, Lady Saints head coach Robyn Ross thinks that experience aided them in the third game this time around.

“I think part of what helps is that they were up two games on NA and let it slip away in the third game,” she said.

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Ross also pointed out to her girls that Eastern Mennonite (14-12-2) had five seniors on its team.

“There’ s no letting down on a team that’s decent that has that much seniority, because those girls are going to fight to the death, because they don’t want their season to end,” she said. “So, we just reminded them of that, and the third game was night-and-day from the first two.”

“Our defense really picked up in the third game,” NSA senior setter Quinby Hines said. “That’s why we won with so much more.”

Hines, who has averaged more assists per game than any setter in the state, added 28 more on Tuesday. TCIS Player of the Year and junior outside hitter Kaylor Nash had 11 kills, six aces, and 15 digs, while senior outside hitter Breanna Barbeau also contributed 10 kills.

“(I was) pretty nervous in the first two games,” Nash said. “But I’m happy we stepped up in the third game and ended it.”

She credited the defensive presence of sophomore libero Claire Shields who had 14 digs and routinely encouraged the girls to cover the gaps the ball would hurtle towards when it came on NSA’s side.

“Clair, our libero, was really in it, calling cover like she meant it, really pumping us all up,” Nash said. “Everybody just really stepped up and played like it was our last game.”

The Lady Saints had a total of 52 digs.

This was the first time NSA had played Eastern Mennonite this season, and Hines said she did not expect the team’s level of skill.

“Their defense is pretty good, and they went for everything,” she said.

Hines’ urgency was obvious as this is her last chance to claim a volleyball state title at NSA.

“This is my third season (coaching), but this is the best team in all of those three seasons, on and off the court,” Ross aid. “So, (Quinby Hines) knows that this is not only her last shot, but it’s also the best shot that we’ve ever had. So she wants it bad and if she can convince enough of her teammates to want it as bad as she does, then we’ll come home winners.”

The Saints will play in the semifinal round on Friday in Richmond at Steward High School against the winner of the game between Highland High School and Walsingham Academy.