King’s Fork sweeps conference tourney

Published 11:39 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

The King’s Fork High School boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams waded past Nansemond River High School to emerge as the Ironclad Conference tournament champions on Thursday at Heritage High School.

It was a repeat for the Bulldogs, who won the inaugural conference tourney last year and stayed on top with a 25-14, 25-13, 25-12 victory on Thursday.

“I felt great about their performance,” KF coach Angelique Gatling said. “Absolutely great.”

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She said the Warriors played well, but her players necessarily raised their level of play a little bit higher than what was expected.

“The boys showed tremendous heart,” Gatling said.

Aside from the challenge posed by NR, the Bulldogs were still having to adjust from a major personnel loss they experienced in the tournament.

“We lost our Player of the Year,” the coach said.

Due to disciplinary reasons, Ironclad Conference Player of the Year Brandon Hall was removed from the lineup to start the tournament and eventually removed from the team.

King’s Fork played without him on Wednesday when it faced Lakeland High School in the conference tournament semifinals. The Bulldogs ended up winning 25-10, 25-23, 25-11.

“They dug in and found a way to make it work,” Gatling said.

In Thursday’s title match, a variety of players continued to make it work with exemplary performances.

“Quan Wilson stepped up tremendously, and Uriah Dickerson made some great plays, as well,” Gatling said, noting the latter has been a huge factor on the blocking side.

Aireon Leary and Cole Bailey hustled for balls and got digs to lead the defense.

Wilson finished with 15 kills, Chris Roscoe had 12 kills, Leary added six, and Deshaun Wilson and Dickerson had three apiece. Cal Bailey contributed 23 assists and seven aces.

King’s Fork hosts Lake Taylor High School on Wednesday in the regional tournament.

The Lady Bulldogs went the distance against the Lady Warriors on Thursday, falling behind, then coming back for the win — 26-24, 17-25, 19-25, 25-18, 15-11.

“I knew it was going to be tough, I knew Nansemond River wanted to beat us pretty badly after we had already beaten them twice,” KF girls’ coach Sarah Porter said. “It was a battle.”

She said the Lady Warriors made a few mistakes that helped the Lady Bulldogs, but King’s Fork also had some stars emerge.

“Taylor Harrell had good serves down the stretch,” Porter said.

So did Latoya Thomas.

“Latoya just is a strong vocal leader, even though she’s a sophomore,” Porter said. “Her mental toughness and her leadership definitely made a difference.”

Last year, the Lady Bulldogs fell in the conference tourney title game to Nansemond River, and Porter was glad to turn things around in 2014.

“It felt good for me,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The Lady Bulldogs host Hanover High School in the regional tournament on Monday at 6 p.m.