The Atlee Raiders clinched a return trip to the State Tournament with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-21 win over arch-rival Lee-Davis Wednesday night in the 5A South Region Semifinals at Meadowbrook High School.
Atlee, 29-2, advances to play Princess Anne, who eliminated defending State Group AAA Champion Kellam – the team that beat Atlee in the state title match last year – in four sets Nov. 13. The two teams met Aug. 30 at the Virginia Volleyball Showcase at Richmond Volleyball Club, with Atlee winning 2-1.
First serve is tonight, 6 p.m. at Meadowbrook.
If at first you don’t succeed…you know the rest.
The Lee-Davis Confederates’ girls volleyball team subscribes to that mantra, and scratched and clawed their way to one more shot at mighty Atlee as the first-ever Class 5A South Regional Tournament began Tuesday night at Meadowbrook High School.
After losing the first two sets of their region quarterfinal to Conference 12 champion L.C. Bird 25-22, 25-17, the Confederates roared back to eliminate the Skyhawks in five sets, winning 25-13, 25-17, 15-6 in the final three sets.
Senior co-captain Chelsea Matthews fueled the comeback for Lee-Davis (20-7), despite being under the weather. Matthews tallied 18 kills, five aces and three blocks.
“We all just realized we didn’t want [the season] to end,” Matthews noted.
“As a senior, she’s got to guide all the young kids. We had four sophomores out there tonight,” noted Lee-Davis head coach Sharon Gaston.
Gaston and her team opted not to stay for the second quarterfinal, wanting to rest up for another shot at Atlee. The Raiders (28-2) punched their ticket to the region semis with a 3-0 thrashing of Manchester, 25-8, 25-10 and 25-12. Atlee’s dominance was never in doubt, jumping out to an 8-1 lead in set one. They never trailed in the match.
For Atlee, it’s one more assignment to overcome their fiercest rival. For Lee-Davis, it’s a final shot at slaying a giant, something they couldn’t do in the first-ever Conference 11 Tournament Championship last Thursday night, as Atlee needed four sets to win the title and beat the Confederates, 25-13, 25-18, 22-25 and 25-17.
Clarke Tyler had 10 kills, four blocks and four digs for the Raiders while fellow senior Rachel Stanford had an amazing 49 assists to go with nine digs in the victory.
But the heart and soul of the team was libero Melanie Snyder, who, despite a season filled with injuries and pain, was everywhere on the court. She went to serve in the decisive set four, Atlee up 13-12, and she immediately told head coach Curtis Carpenter she wanted to go with power.
“I wasn’t coping with not being able to get aces,” Snyder said. “I just told him, look, I want to do top-spin. It’s okay. I can do it.”
Three points later, the Raiders were up 16-12, then won nine of the last 14 points to earn the inaugural Conference 11 championship trophy.