NSA girls advance

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The defending state champion girls’ volleyball team from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy got its run in the VISAA Division II state playoffs off to a strong start on Tuesday night.

The second-seeded Lady Saints eliminated visiting seventh-seeded Highland School in straight sets — a 25-12, 25-13, 25-5 quarterfinal rout.

“They did really well,” NSA coach Robyn Ross said. “It was sort of anti-climactic, maybe. It was a lot of serving on our part, but we ran our offense well, we serve-received much better than we did against Cape Henry (Collegiate School) on Saturday, so it went well.”

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Nansemond-Suffolk’s service game was in rare form as the team registered a season-high 14 aces.

Lady Saints senior libero Bridget Murphy had six aces and 27 points won on her serves. She was a key reason the final game of the match was so lopsided.

“She served 20 points in the third game, and 19 points in a row,” Ross said. “I gave her the chance to serve for the first time in a long time.”

In recent matches, Murphy had been switching out with NSA’s middle blockers and not serving.

“It wasn’t an exciting hitting night, because we didn’t have to hit very much,” Ross said.

Nansemond-Suffolk senior middle blocker Lizzy Fowler had eight kills, sophomore outside hitter Livi Bono had six and senior middle blocker Caylin Harris had five. Bono had the highest hitting percentage — .500, with no errors.

The No. 2 Lady Saints (19-9) advance now to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state semifinals to face No. 3 Fredericksburg Christian School for a rematch between the teams that met in last year’s state championship.

It will not be quite the same teams squaring off this year, as Ross said, “We both graduated our big outside hitters.”

But important things remain the same.

“I have not seen (the Lady Eagles) play, and we haven’t played them at all this year, so I’m not really sure what they have, but they made it this far, so they have to still be good,” Ross said.

NSA and Ross will not spend too much time thinking about Fredericksburg Christian, though.

“We only sort of think about the other team a little bit, and then we spend most of our time focusing on what we need to do,” Ross said.

She and the Lady Saints hope to have a fair amount of support in the stands for the remainder of the state tournament, which will be held unusually close to home this year — Newport News.

In the past two years, NSA has traveled to Richmond and Fredericksburg for state-level volleyball play, but the semifinals and final of the 2014 tourney will be played at Peninsula Catholic High School on 600 Harpersville Road in Newport News.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good turnout,” Ross said.

Nansemond-Suffolk plays its state semifinal on Friday at 2 p.m. If the Lady Saints win, they will play for the state title on Saturday at noon.