NRHS pulls away from Lakeland

Published 9:26 pm Saturday, October 12, 2013

Taking the unusual step of starting most of their substitutes against a weaker team, the Nansemond River High School girls’ volleyball team was still able to pull away from Lakeland’s Lady Cavaliers for a win on the road on Thursday.

With her team coming to the game boasting a 10-2 record, NRHS coach Nicole Johnson chose to shake things up a bit against the 6-8 Lady Cavaliers.

Nansemond River High School senior middle blocker/hitter Tatyana Thomas sizes up a potential kill on Thursday night against host Lakeland High School. She had 16 kills, no errors and six blocks in the four-set win over the Lady Cavs that ended around 10:30 p.m. due to transportation delays and an over-run in the boys’ preceding game.

Nansemond River High School senior middle blocker/hitter Tatyana Thomas sizes up a potential kill on Thursday night against host Lakeland High School. She had 16 kills, no errors and six blocks in the four-set win over the Lady Cavs that ended around 10:30 p.m. due to transportation delays and an over-run in the boys’ preceding game.

She changed her team’s line up and started most of her substitutes, choosing to bring her starters off the bench. She only reverted to the regular starting lineup at the beginning of Game Two.

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The Cavs would not give up easily however, forcing an up-and-down four-set match in which the Lady Warriors ultimately pulled away for the win, 15-25, 25-12, 26-24, 25-11.

Johnson said she wants to put her players in a position to improve, even when they’re winning easily. She figured this would be an easier match, so she put her starters in when they were at a deficit.

“Then they have to win a game after being down,” she said. “That’s kind of the mentality behind it, because we’re not getting any better for playoffs if we just keep beating teams 25-5.”

She was pleased with the Lady Warriors’ performance at times, including their ability to finish, but said, “It didn’t go as smoothly tonight as I would have liked.”

Nansemond River senior middle blocker/hitter Tatyana Thomas was still a dominant force in the match, but her impact was not felt until later.

Lakeland head coach Tarijuana Napoleon said, “I did notice they changed the lineup, because normally Tatyana plays back row.”

The Lady Cavaliers took advantage of their opportunities in the first game, at one point jumping out to a 12-point lead. Even after more Nansemond River starters filtered in, Lakeland still kept them at bay.

“I felt like the girls were executing well,” Napoleon said. “I felt like they were gelling as a team. They played really good that first set. That is what my expectation was each and every set.”

Johnson said she reached a point where she was OK with giving up the first game, confident her team would be able to bounce back.

They did, in Game Two, with Thomas producing emphatic kills at the net. The match seemed to be drifting the way of a blowout until a very competitive third game.

The Lady Cavs hung close for a while, but then Nansemond River took the lead and established a 20-16 cushion at one point, and served for the game winner with a 24-22 advantage.

Lady Warriors junior middle blocker/setter Morgan Lowers said, “I think we let back a lot, knowing that, ‘Oh, we just beat them. No problem, we’ll play, and we’ll get them this time again,’ and so we played back to their level again, and so I think that’s what killed us in that third game.”

Nevertheless, Nansemond River managed to score four unanswered points to win the set.

Johnson said, “We made a lot of mistakes in a row, and we have a bad habit of letting one point turn into five, so I think it just raveled out of control, but these girls know how to finish.”

She was most pleased with the fourth game, in which she challenged her girls to prove Game Two was not a fluke. The Lady Warriors jumped out to a 14-1 lead.

Napoleon said during the course of the match, her team got down on itself and could not get out of the hole. The hole was dug by its inability to slow Thomas and put some blocks on her.

“We expected Tatyana to get her hits in, but we just wanted to control her where she just wasn’t dominating us like she did last set,” Napoleon said.

Thomas ended up with 16 kills for the game with no errors and six blocks. NR senior Rachel Kent led the team with nine digs, sophomore Camryn Holt had 24 assists and senior Victoria Newbill had seven aces.

The Lady Cavaliers were led by DJannay Patterson with 10 kills, one block and two aces. Logan Reid had nine kills and two aces.

On Tuesday, Nansemond River (11-2, 6-0) travels to play Heritage High School while Lakeland (6-9, 3-3) visits Phoebus High School.