NSA girls fall in championship

Published 11:49 pm Saturday, November 10, 2012

The 2012 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy varsity girls’ volleyball team became only the second team in the school’s history to reach the state championship game. They aimed to be the first to win it, but fell to Peninsula Catholic 25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 21-25, 10-15 in Richmond on Saturday to finish as the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state runner-up. The team, from left to right, on the back row is Bridget Murphy; Lizzy Fowler; Caylin Harris; Brianna Rowe; Claire Shields; and Brooks Gillerlain. On the front row are players Breanna Barbeau; Quinby Hines; and Kaylor Nash.

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy varsity girls’ volleyball team went to Richmond in search of the Saints’ first girls’ volleyball state title. But it was not to be.

After a strong start, the tide turned in the third set, and they ended up losing to Peninsula Catholic 25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 21-25 and 10-15 on Saturday at the Steward School.

Nevertheless, this NSA team duplicated what only one other team in the history of NSA girls’ volleyball has done by making it to the state championship game.

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“They have a lot to be proud of,” Lady Saints head coach Robyn Ross said. “I’m super proud of them. They know I’m not a very good loser, but they have worked really hard this year, and second place in the entire state of Virginia (isn’t) too bad.”

NSA had played Peninsula Catholic twice earlier this season. The Lady Saints won both times, the first time in four sets and the second time in three straight.

“They’re a great team,” Ross said. “They’re a huge team, and they are one of the better teams in the state, and they just have had a lot of injuries this year.”

NSA came into the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state tournament as the second seed with a 23-3 record. Peninsula Catholic was the fifth seed with a 15-11 record that appeared weak by comparison. But that kind of judgment proved to be deceiving.

“This week is one of the first weeks that they’ve had everybody back and healthy,” Ross said. “So they are a really good team, and you can’t open the door and let them in, or they’re going to take it and run with it. And we left the door open a little bit in the third game.”

Before that, the Lady Saints had seemed poised for another straight-sets victory.

“We have a streak of losing the third game, so it’s kind of like, ‘All right, we’ve got to win this one. This is the one that counts,’” junior outside hitter Kaylor Nash said. “So I think everybody was a little bit more nervous in the third game.”

“They played really strong in the last three games, and we just didn’t finish it, I guess,” senior setter Quinby Hines said between tears.

Nash had 22 kills and 20 digs for the Lady Saints, and Hines contributed 47 assists.

“It’s disappointing we lost, but everybody went out there and tried their hardest, and it just didn’t go in our favor today,” Nash said.

NSA sophomore middle blocker Caylin Harris contributed 15 kills and seven blocks, and sophomore libero Claire Shields had 15 digs.

Though she was disappointed by Saturday’s result, Hines expressed satisfaction with the elite level of play the team achieved in 2012.

“I wouldn’t want (it) any other way for my senior year,” she said. “We made it further than we ever have since I’ve been in ninth grade, so it was fun.”