Atlee girls volleyball shows it’s the team to beat

Six of Hanover County’s eight high school volleyball teams were among 46 who descended upon the Richmond Volleyball Club complex in the west end Labor Day Weekend for the 16th annual Virginia Volleyball Showcase. The tourney is an excellent opportunity for teams to find out how their squad shapes up against some of the best competition they’ll meet all season.

Two Midlothian defenders go to the net against Atlee. The Raiders swept Midlothian during the 16th annual Virginia Volleyball Showcase, finishing  second overall.

Two Midlothian defenders go to the net against Atlee. The Raiders swept Midlothian during the 16th annual Virginia Volleyball Showcase, finishing second overall.

For some it even provides a possible post-season preview. For the Atlee Raiders girls team, it was a good place to begin a new run.

Atlee, now without graduated starters Hailey Brooks (South Florida), Karlie Suber (Virginia), and Kayleigh Moody, who led the Raiders to the brink of a state title last November, battled again with the top dogs, finishing second overall in the top girls division.

Friday, Atlee went 8-1 in sets, sweeping Deep Run and Midlothian, and defeating Princess Anne two sets to one, placing the Raiders in Saturday’s Gold Division Pool with powerhouses Langley and First Colonial.

Playing competitively, but guilty of miscues at crucial times, Atlee lost their first two sets to First Colonial, 25-21 and 25-23 before rallying to win set three 25-22. They entered their final match as underdogs to Langley, who swept First Colonial earlier in the afternoon, but the Raiders showed grit and determination en route to a 2-1 win, falling in set one 25-17 before beating Langley 25-10, 25-21 to end the tourney in second place overall.

Returning starters Rachel Stanford, libero Melanie Snyder, Kylah Blackmore and Clarke Tyler all played key roles. Molly Jarvis, now a sophomore who was forced to enter the state final last fall versus Kellam after Moody injured her knee and admittedly struggled, showed huge improvement in the middle defensively.

The Raiders’ performance showed they, again, are the team to beat in the Richmond area. The team in the county closest to them is found at Lee-Davis. The Confederates won the bronze championship, overcoming a Friday filled with top flight opponents, and fatigue on Saturday, to place seventh overall.

Lee-Davis won four of nine sets in opening round play Friday, sweeping Mills Godwin and taking one set from Ocean Lakes of Virginia Beach after being swept by Langley. Saturday, after losing their first two sets to Centreville, the Confederates stormed back, winning the final set from Centreville, then returning to sweep Midlothian to win the Pool with a 4-2 mark. Junior Jordan Martin showed leadership in Saturday’s resurgence, playing well in all phases of the game.

Confederates head coach Sharon Gaston said her team was “fatigued” at one point during Saturday’s playoffs, but was very happy with their ability to come back and take all three sets from Midlothian.

The Hanover girls, in the lower White Division, won the Bronze title Saturday, finishing ninth overall. The Hawks went 5-4 on Friday, sweeping Appomattox Regional Governor’s School and going 1-2 against both New Kent and Courtland, the latter game played Saturday morning.

The Hawks returned in the afternoon to defeat King George 2-0 and James River-Buchanan 2-1.

“I was able to gain tremendous insight into how our team needs to prepare in order to be successful,” Hanover coach Karl Lippa noted. “Our season rests on the team’s ability to trust one another on the court. That should come with some time.”

Two of Hanover’s biggest rivals in the new Conference 20, played in the higher Red Division, Midlothian placing ninth and Glen Allen taking 12th.

It was a tough weekend for all three boys’ entries, as Patrick Henry, Atlee and Hanover finished 16th, 17th, and 18th overall, out of 18 teams. Patrick Henry won one set in Friday preliminaries in their 2-1 set loss to Colonial Heights. They were also swept by Ocean Lakes. Atlee and Hanover both lost all six sets Friday, Atlee falling to James River and Princess Anne, while Hanover lost to First Colonial and Clover Hill.

In Saturday’s pool play, Atlee defeated Monacan 2-1 and lost to Mills Godwin by the same score. Patrick Henry defeated Hanover 2-1, then was swept by former Colonial District rival Douglas Freeman. Hanover fell to Freeman two sets to one. In their final matches, Patrick Henry lost the 15th place match to Monacan 2-1, going to 20-18 in the tiebreaker, while Atlee took 17th place from Hanover by scores of 17-25, 25-13, 15-12.

Atlee’s Tyler, Snyder and Stanford were named to the Red Division All-Tournament team, while Hanover’s Leila Haynesworth earned White Division All-Tournament honors.

Posted on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 9:23 am