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One match into their 2015 season, the Warhill Lions have already lost as many matches as they did during last year's state championship run.
On Tuesday, Lafayette upended the defending Group 3A state champions on the road in five sets 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 17-25, 15-11.
Though the match is only the second of the season, Rams Head Coach Keith Nowadly said he believes it to be an important win for his program.
"It's huge. When you beat the defending state champions, it can change your season," he said. "Hopefully it tells teams we aren't going to be pushovers. If you're going to beat us, you have to come out and do something well. We aren't just going to roll over and let you win."
From the opening set, Lafayette had the look of a team poised to spoil Warhill's first match of the season.
After watching Warhill jump out to a quick lead in the first set, Lafayette countered and pulled away for an 8-4 lead. The Lions responded and tied the score at 12-12 before taking a 17-14 lead.
Refusing to give up the opening set, Lafayette battled back and tied it at 18-18 before reeling off three consecutive points. The Rams were able to use a four-point lead late in the set to hang on for an early win.
While competitive, the second set looked to be trending in Lafayette's favor. Lafayette jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and did not relinquish a lead in the second set until Warhill earned a one point edge 23 points in.
From there, the teams battled back and forth until Warhill reeled off four consecutive points to close out the set for a 25-23 victory.
The third set was controlled handily by Lafayette with the Rams getting an early lead and never letting it go during the 25-18 win.
Conversely, the fourth set was soundly in Warhill's control after Lafayette jumped to a quick 5-1 lead. Warhill battled back to tie the score at 12-12 and proceeded to win 13 of the next 17 points to close the set 25-17.
The pivotal fifth set started with the Rams sprinting out to a fast 5-2 lead, drawing a roaring applause from their fans in the Warhill gym.
The Lions were up to the occasion, winning four consecutive points to take a 6-5 lead. The Rams had a counterattack ready, taking the next three points to build an 8-6 lead.
Lafayette carried its momentum to a 14-9 lead and match point. Warhill (0-1) kept its hopes of a comeback alive by winning two points back-to-back, but Lafayette was able to secure the match-clinching point and complete the upset.
While Lafayette's (2-0) players jumped into each other's arms and celebrated, Warhill Head Coach Greg Koon gave his thoughts on his team's performance.
"We still have a long way to go," he said. "This is a completely different team from last year and there's a lot of holes we're working to fill. Even though the end result isn't what the program would like, you have to take away that we've seen the progress in the girls, which is a good thing for me."
Lafayette will hope to build on the momentum from Tuesday's win during its next match at Smithfield at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Warhill, meanwhile, will look for its first win of the season at home Thursday against York.
Lafayette def. Warhill 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 17-25, 15-11
Lafayette: Julia Howard (32 assists, 10 digs), Abby Oren (26 kills, 16 digs), Kelly Carroll (11 kills, 10 digs)
Warhill: Nicole Mulligan (17 kills, 4 aces), Chloe Wilmoth (11 kills), Cori Clifton (32 assists, 4 aces)
Bruton Falls in Five Sets to Smithfield
Bruton lost more than just a volleyball match Tuesday.
During the first set of a hotly-contested five-set loss to Smithfield, Bruton's first-team All-State sophomore Gabby Calloway went down with a twisted ankle and did not return.
Bruton Coach Kevin Doloresco said Calloway's status for Bruton's next match was uncertain.
After Calloway's injury early in the match, Allison Arbogast was called upon to fill the gap at outside hitter. Arbogast finished the match with nine kills.
The Panthers rallied and won the first set handily, but found themselves in a back-and-forth affair for the next four sets.
Bruton fell by four points in the second set, but took a 2-1 overall lead after earning a 27-25 win in set three.
Serving errors proved costly for the Panthers all night, with 12 serving errors allowing Smithfield to stay in the match.
Smithfield took the fourth set 25-19 and edged Bruton 15-11 in the final set to secure the win.
Bruton's (0-1) next match will be on the road at Grafton at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Smithfield def. Bruton 13-25, 25-21, 25-27, 25-19, 15-11
Bruton: Mykael Johnson (22 digs, 21 kills, 1 ace), Lauren Walker (20 digs, 6 aces), Alexa Woolson (19 assists), Allison Arbogast (9 kills)
Grafton Opens Season With Sweep of Poquoson
Grafton's 2015 volleyball campaign got off to a good start Tuesday as the clippers swept Poquoson 25-21, 25-22, 25-17 at home.
Led by Rachel Blitt, who finished the match with 14 kills, eight digs, two blocks and an ace, the Clippers were able to edge the Islanders in the first two sets before pulling away in the third to win the match.
Kaitlyn Young facilitated the Grafton offense with 35 assists and three aces, while Brooke Parker chipped in nine kills and four blocks.
Grafton (1-0) will continue its season at home against Bruton at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Grafton def. Poquoson 25-21, 25-22, 25-17
Grafton: Brooke Parker (9 kills, 4 blocks), Rachel Blitt (14 kills, 1 ace, 8 digs, 2 blocks), Kaitlyn Young (1 kill, 3 aces, 35 assists, 5 digs)
Poquoson: Toni Anne Whitlow (15 kills, 3 aces, 9 digs), Megan Saetre (23 assists, 7 digs)
New Kent Sweeps York in Opener
New Kent spoiled York's opening home match by sweeping the Falcons 25-15, 25-13, 25-17.
The Trojans controlled all three sets, with the closest coming being decided by eight points.
York will look to rebound against defending Group 3A state champions Warhill on the road at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Individual statistics for this match were not reported.
New Kent def. York 25-15, 25-13, 25-17
WCA Swept by Denbigh Baptist
The Williamsburg Christian Academy volleyball team fell in straight sets 25-13, 25-23, 25-20 to Denbigh Baptist on the road Tuesday.
After a decisive first set in favor of Denbigh Baptist, the Eagles put up more of a fight in the next two sets.
Patricia Davie and Anah Taylor led the way for Williamsburg Christian Academy with 7 kills each.
The loss drops the Eagles to 1-2 on the season with their next match Thursday at home against Suffolk Christian.
Denbigh Baptist def. Williamsburg Christian Academy 25-13, 25-23, 25-20
Williamsburg Christian Academy: Patricia Davie ( 7 kills), Anah Taylor (7 kills)
Denbigh Baptist: Caroline Schindler (10 service points), Carley Gregg (9 service points)