NSA comes back to give Ross 100th win

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It was a slightly different path to victory than the norm for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls’ volleyball, but a young Lady Saints team on Tuesday followed up 2013’s state title victory with a five-set comeback thriller, coach Robyn Ross’ 100th win.

“I can’t get those numbers without girls who believe what I say,” Ross said Wednesday. “I’m just really proud of what those girls did last night and for the last four years that I’ve been here.”

NSA defeated host Hampton Roads Academy 22-25, 17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-9.

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The Lady Saints rarely dropped a set last year, but Ross was not surprised that her team struggled some on Tuesday.

Half of the starting lineup featured new and young players. They and their teammates were playing a good Lady Navigators squad, which already had a few matches under its belt this season, and the Lady Saints really wanted to get Coach Ross her 100th win.

Additionally, “I know that people are out to get NSA, because they want to take down that team that had that near-perfect season,” Ross said.

She said HRA made some big plays, but due to her trademark intense practices, a long match is not necessarily a bad thing for well-conditioned NSA.

After the Lady Saints dropped the second set, Ross spoke to them, trying to eliminate stressful concerns and narrow their focus to their training.

“I wanted the girls to get over the desire to win and just play and have fun and do what we have been taught to do, and so the seniors really, really stepped up,” she said.

This helped settle down the new sophomore starters — Livi Bono, Logan Harrell and Lindsay Knierbein. Ross said there were about half as many NSA errors committed in the last three games as there were in the first two.

“What changed sort of the momentum and worked in our favor is our middle just sort of taking over,” Ross said.

For the game, senior middle blockers Caylin Harris and Lizzy Fowler had 18 and 11 kills, respectively.

“Lizzy had one of her best matches that I’ve seen with how aggressive she was at the net,” Ross said. “Caylin had the same effect that she had on teams last year where she can just take over.”

Senior libero Bridget Murphy, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament during the 2013-14 basketball season, returned after eight months of rehab and recovery to turn in a great performance, recording 26 digs and zero errors in serve-receive.

Senior setter Brooks Gillerlain registered 54 assists and helped her young teammates with precise sets.

NSA athletic director Betty Jean Riddick presented Ross flowers after the game to commemorate her 100th win, a feat Riddick said was “no surprise as Robyn has accomplished many goals at NSA for NSA’s volleyball team.”

Nansemond-Suffolk (1-0) returns to action on Sept. 4 at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School.