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Giles edges Lee in 2A West volleyball semifinals

Pat Kenney • Nov 10, 2016 at 11:34 PM

LEBANON, Va. — Tantalizingly close to victory, Lee left Lebanon High School with a bitter taste after losing to Giles 25-17, 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-10 in the 2A West volleyball semifinals on Thursday.

The Lady Spartans (20-3) will take on Marion on Saturday in the championship match. The Lady Scarlet Hurricanes downed James River 25-14, 15-25, 25-15, 25-20 in the other semifinal. With their wins Thursday, both Giles and Marion earned berths in next week’s VHSL 2A state Final Four in Richmond.

Although Lee (20-4) had won the fourth set to even the match at two sets apiece, there had been a huge momentum swing that seemed to favor Giles.

The Lady Generals stunned the Lady Spartans by racing out to a commanding 15-4 advantage in the fourth set. But Giles reversed its fortune and went on a 19-7 run to move in front 23-22.

Lee responded by winning the final three points of the set and forcing a fifth and deciding set. That late momentum swing by the Lady Spartans in the fourth set came back to haunt the Lady Generals when it mattered most.

“We always talk about being greedy with momentum,” said Giles coach Mandy Havens. “If you can take it you usually can win the set.”

When Lee jumped ahead 6-3 in the fifth set, it appeared that momentum was on their side, but it turned out to be the Lady Generals last hurrah.

Giles sophomore Jocelyn Midkiff put down a kill to narrow the deficit to 6-4 and then she stepped to the service line. As hard as Midkiff pounded her kills, her serve was like a knuckleball and was difficult to receive and control. She served eight straight points before Lee could break her and by then the scored favored the Lady Spartans 12-6.

From that point the two teams traded points before the inevitable conclusion that would favor Giles.

“We showed some great intestinal fortitude in that last set,” added Havens. “We lost one of our setters to an injury and girls that came off the bench stepped in and got the job done for us.

“Lee showed us their best tonight,” said Havens. “They are well coached. We were lucky to come out on top.”

Lady Generals coach Alexis Carson pinpointed the swing in momentum.

“About midway through that fourth set we started to play a little scared,” said Carson. “We started playing safe volleyball and that’s when it can get away from you.

“But this was a picture perfect example of how a young team that has never been in this situation before can react,” added Carson. “They’d never seen anything like this before, the regional semifinal. Before the season they never dreamed they could ever get this far. But they’ve learned so much and now with us only losing one senior we can’t wait to get back at it again next year.”

Lee’s lone senior Brook Hammonds had 18 kills, 15 service points, 17 digs and three blocks. Whitney Ely added 12 kills and 13 service points while Sheridan Herron had seven kills and 15 service points. Arielle Tritt dished out 38 assists for the Lady Generals and had eight blocks and 17 service points. Claudia Alsup came up with 21 digs for Lee.

Giles was led by Midkiff’s 23 kills and 30 digs. Alyson Pennington had 15 kills and 26 assists for the Lady Spartans with Madison Williams passing out 29 assists.

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