Lady Saints advance to state semis
Published 10:08 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls’ volleyball team got its state title defense off to a good start on Tuesday evening.
The Lady Saints eliminated visiting Trinity Christian School in straight sets, 30-28, 25-12, 25-22, in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state quarterfinals.
The win was an important rebound from NSA’s four-set, error-laden loss to Norfolk Academy on Friday in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament semifinals.
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“Offensively, they were much better than they were on Friday, so the things that we worked on in practice, they were able to really apply tonight,” Ross said on Tuesday.
Those things they worked on in practice included hitting a few different sets, placing the ball in certain areas on the court, and “really working on being more aggressive at the net and terminating a ball, which we could not do very well on Friday against NA,” Ross said.
She said the Lady Saints’ improvement on offense was the deciding factor of the match against Trinity Christian.
Nansemond-Suffolk’s visitors made the first set highly competitive, forcing NSA to 30 points.
“They’ve been in those pressure situations a lot,” Ross said of her players. “I know they can pull through most of the time when it is at the end, and it is tied.”
Lady Saints junior outside hitter Livi Bono, who recorded the winning kill in the set, makes a point of avoiding mental distractions when a set reaches the pressure-packed stages that come after the 25-point mark.
“I try not to think about anything, but I just wanted to end it, and it didn’t have to be me, but I wanted it to be over,” she said.
Bono finished the match with 19 kills, 18 digs and two aces.
“She did a really good job offensively, and then 18 is one of her highest number of digs,” Ross said.
Junior outside hitter Lindsay Knierbein added 18 more digs, eight kills and four aces.
“That team that we played hit almost everything to the crosscourt where Lindsay and Livi were,” Ross said.
Freshman outside hitter Kayla Hankins drew praise from Ross for expanding her game this year.
“She hasn’t played in the back row at all the whole entire season, but she’s been playing defense really well in practice,” the coach said. “In the third set against NA, I put her in the back row, and serving and she did great. We stayed with that tonight, and she had three aces and 10 digs, and so she had a really, really, really strong night for being a freshman and never playing defense,” especially in a crucial, state-level match.
NSA junior setter Nicole Wright recorded 42 assists, and senior middle blocker/outside hitter Anna Vastardis had eight kills.
Bono highlighted junior libero Logan Harrell for her performance on defense.
“When you thought the ball was already hitting the ground, she dug it and saved us,” Bono said.
Harrell finished with 20 digs to go with four aces and 15 points on serve.
The No. 4 Lady Saints (26-8) expect to play No. 1 Middleburg Academy in the VISAA Division II state semifinals on Friday evening at Richard Bland College in Petersburg. Should NSA win, it would play in the state championship on Saturday afternoon at the same location.