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A controversial end to Tuesday's five-set match between Warhill and Grafton overshadowed what was an otherwise top-class volleyball match between two Bay Rivers District powers.
Warhill ultimately came out on top 22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 20-18 on the road Tuesday, but it did not come easy.
With Grafton one point away from winning the match deep into the fifth set, an inadvertent whistle by the head official forced the match-winning point to be replayed.
Warhill took advantage of the call and won three consecutive points to steal what seemed like a victory for the Clippers.
The final points of the game were just as dramatic as the points played in the previous four sets in what was an extremely competitive match.
Grafton looked the stronger team in the first set, erasing a 9-5 deficit to Warhill and eventually building a four-point lead at 19-15. The Lions closed the gap and tied the opening set at 22-22, but back-to-back points by Grafton led up to the set point.
A mishit by Warhill freshman Chloe Wilmoth sent the ball bouncing off the court to give the opening set to the Clippers.
The second set was a different story, as Warhill opened with a 6-0 run before building a lead as big as 15-3. A late push by Grafton made the set seem more respectable, but the Lions ultimately cruised to the six-point victory to tie the match at 1-1.
Warhill continued its strong play in the third set as the Lions maintained a narrow lead over Grafton for most of the set. Holding at most a three-point lead in the set, Warhill and Grafton tied late in the set at 22-22.
Back-to-back points from the Lions set up Nicole Mulligan for the set-winning point that came off a softly hit ball that fell to the court between three diving Grafton players.
Grafton responded with a strong start of its own in the fourth set in desperate need of a win to send the match to a fifth set.
The Clippers opened the fourth set on a 6-0 run before Warhill closed the gap and tied the set at 15-15. With the set still tied at 17-17, Grafton went on a crucial 7-0 run to held secure the set victory and send the match into the decisive final set.
"My girls played unbelievably," Grafton Coach Karissa Cumberbatch said. "We played incredible volleyball."
After both teams traded points through the first 10 plays of the fifth set, Warhill pulled away thanks to a 5-0 run and held a 10-5 lead.
Refusing to give up in the match, Grafton battled back and tied the set at 14-14. Warhill took a one-point lead at 15-14, but Grafton held on defense to force extra points.
Warhill returned the favor as Grafton took one-point leads twice during the next four points and the Lions held strong to extend the match each time.
With Grafton leading 18-17 and needing just one point to secure the match, a Grafton serve was misplayed by Warhill and sent sailing near the stands, which are considered out of play.
A Warhill player sprinted toward the stands and hit the ball over her head with one hand and back into play. The third hit from Warhill sailed out of bounds and Grafton's players began celebrating on the court.
That was until the head official ruled a replay of the point due to an inadvertent whistle.
After the match, the official told WYDaily he inadvertently blew his whistle because he thought the ball was heading out of play and did not expect the Warhill player to reach it.
With the Grafton crowd and bench stunned, Warhill took advantage of its new life in the match and won back-to-back points to take a 19-18 lead with the chance to win. A timely block by the Lions resulted in the final point of the match, giving Warhill the victory.
Warhill Coach Greg Koon said Tuesday's match mirrored his team's up-and-down season.
"The match is indicative of our entire season," he joked. "When I first took over this job, we couldn't buy a win at this gym. Any time you get a win against Grafton or any 4A school in this district, it's a good win."
Cumberbatch praised Grafton's play during the match, which she also referred to as a win for her team.
"In my book, we won that game. The ball was in the bleachers and out of play. We won that game without a doubt," she said, visibly frustrated. "I told my girls after the game, I don't care what the scoreboard says. I don't care what our record is. We won fair and square."
Warhill (11-4) will travel to play New Kent on Thursday, while Grafton (14-6) will host York the same day.
Warhill def. Grafton 22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 20-18
Warhill: Nicole Mulligan (17 kills, 12 digs), Chloe Wilmoth (16 kills, 10 digs, 3 aces), Jewel Walters (20 digs)
Grafton: Rachel Blitt (22 kills, 10 digs, 6 blocks, 4 aces), Sam Heard (14 kills, 10 digs, 2 blocks, 1 ace), Kaitlyn Young (47 assists, 10 digs, 3 kills, 2 aces)
York Beats Tabb for First Win of 2015
York's volleyball team earned a dramatic first win of the season, beating Tabb on the road Tuesday in five sets – 25-23, 14-25, 16-25, 25-23, 16-14.
The Falcons narrowly claimed the first set by two points, but the Tigers answered back with commanding wins during the second and third sets.
York battled back in the fourth set, again winning by two points to force a decisive fifth set.
The final set mirrored York's other set wins, with the Falcons edging Tabb 16-14 to clinch their first win of 2015.
Leading the way for York was Mackenzie Chaffin, who posted a tripe-double of 15 kills, 15 digs and 14 assists. Sophia Pereira had 31 digs, while Aniyah Hubert added 27 digs and 10 kills.
For Tabb, Abigail Carney also had a triple-double of 45 assists, 20 digs, 12 kills and five aces. Madi Dadez logged 17 digs and 10 kills, while Audre'ana Ellis chipped in 10 kills, 10 digs and five aces.
York (1-12) will look to continue its winning ways during a tough road test against Grafton on Thursday.
Tabb (2-12) has lost nine consecutive matches and is looking to buck the trend during a Thursday road game against Lafayette.
York def. Tabb 25-23, 14-25, 16-25, 25-23, 16-14
York: Sophia Pereira (31 digs), Aniyah Hubert (27 digs, 10 kills), Mackenzie Chaffin (15 kills, 15 digs, 14 assists)
Tabb: Abigail Carney (45 assists, 20 digs, 12 kills, 5 aces), Madi Dadez (17 digs, 10 kills), Audre'ana Ellis (10 kills, 10 digs, 5 aces)
Jamestown Dominates Bruton
Jamestown had no trouble getting past Bruton in straight sets on the road Tuesday 25-9, 25-9, 25-18.
The Eagles dominated every facet of the game as Bruton struggled to cope with the height of Jamestown's front line.
After cruising through the first two sets, Jamestown let reserve players see some court time during the match-clinching set.
Maria Esch led the way for Jamestown with 14 digs and 13 kills, while Madison Spence added 21 assists, 10 digs and five aces.
Gabby Calloway paced Bruton with 10 kills and eight digs, and Alexa Woolson chipped in 12 assists.
Jamestown (17-2) will continue its season with a home match against Smithfield on Thursday, while Bruton (5-12) will look to rebound during a road game against Poquoson on Thursday.
Jamestown def. Bruton 25-9, 25-9, 25-18
Jamestown: Maria Esch (14 digs, 13 kills), Ellie Popelka (13 kills, 3 blocks), Madison Spence (21 assists, 10 digs, 5 aces)
Bruton: Gabby Calloway (10 kills, 8 digs, 1 block), Alexa Woolson (12 assists)
Lafayette Swept by Poquoson
Lafayette was taken down in straight sets by Poquoson on the road Tuesday 26-24, 25-20, 25-20.
After losing a close first set, Lafayette fell by five point margins in the second and third sets.
Abby Oren posted a double-double of 14 kills and 11 digs for Lafayette, while Kelly Carroll added nine kills and six digs.
The loss continues what has been a roller coaster of a season for the Rams. Lafayette is 3-3 over its last three games, alternating wins and losses over that span.
Lafayette (9-8) will try to rebound with a win at home against Tabb on Thursday.
Poquoson def. Lafayette 26-24, 25-20, 25-20
Lafayette: Abby Oren (14 kills, 2 aces, 11 digs), Kelly Carroll (9 kills, 6 digs), Chandler Boone (4 kills, 2 blocks)
HRA Overcomes Cape Henry at Home
Hampton Roads Academy drew big performances from key players during a 25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 26-24 victory against Cape Henry at home Tuesday.
The Navigators handily controlled the first set by seven points, but had to edge Cape Henry by two points in the second set.
In the third set, the Dolphins rebounded with a four-point win. HRA rebounded and took a hard-fought fourth set by two points to close out the match.
HRA was led by Megan Leavey with 24 kills and 14 digs, Meghan Lee with 13 kills, Rhett Deverich with 44 assists and Kendall Schroder with 37 digs.
The Navigators (8-11) have won back-to-back matches and will look to keep that streak going during a road game against Walsingham Academy on Thursday.
HRA def. Cape Henry 25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 26-24
HRA: Megan Leavey (24 kills, 14 digs), Meghan Lee (13 kills), Rhett Deverich (44 assists)