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Warhill displayed its dominance against Spotsylvania on Wednesday evening, blowing out the Knights 25-10, 25-19, 25-13 in straight sets during the semifinal round of the Group 3A East tournament.
The win guarantees the Lions a spot in the Group 3A state tournament.
"It feels great," said Warhill Coach Greg Koon about making the state tournament again. "My goal was them to get back to the state tournament. Their goal was to go further, but they've already met my expectations."
By all accounts, the Lions also exceeded Koon's expectations Wednesday night during the semifinal match against Spotsylvania.
The strong play by Warhill was apparent in the opening set, which saw Warhill jump out to a quick 4-1 lead. The Knights responded to make the opening set 6-5 in favor of Warhill. From there, the set got out of hand.
Warhill put together a 5-0 run to extend its lead to 11-5. After Spotsylvania broke the Lions' scoring streak, Warhill responded with a 9-0 run to take a 20-7 lead courtesy of Nicole Mulligan's jumping topspin serve. Because her serve flies with high velocity and movement, teams have often struggled to adjust to her. Such was the case Wednesday.
"Coach usually gives people places to serve, but with my topspin I just look for holes or a weaker passer on the team and go for them," said Mulligan, who finished with a match-high eight aces. "Dropping it short, they weren't picking it up so I just kept doing it. When they creeped in, I shot it deep and caught them up top."
With such a large advantage in hand, Warhill was able to cruise to a 25-10 first set win.
The second set also featured a strong start from the Lions, who jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead. Unlike the first set, Spotsylvania stepped up and challenge Warhill after finding itself down in the early going. The Knights fought back and cut Warhill's lead to 9-6.
Warhill responded with a spurt of its own to stretch its lead back to 14-8, but Spotsylvania refused to go away throughout the set. With Warhill leading 22-19, the Lions took the final three points of the set to go up 2-0 in the match.
The Lions dominated in the third set, leaving almost no chance for Spotsylvania to generate a comeback attempt. Warhill opened on a 6-0 run, which eventually turned into a 16-7 lead for the Lions. Never slowing down, Warhill kept pulling away until the match was in hand with a 25-13 final set.
With Wednesday's win, the Lions will prepare to host Poquoson on Thursday in the Group 3A East championship match. It will be the fourth time the two teams have met this season, with Poquoson holding a 2-1 advantage over the Lions this year.
Koon said he does not expect the championship match to be as lopsided as the quarterfinals and semifinals have been for the Lions.
"I expect another battle. I expect games to go into extra points and tight sets," he said. "I expect, without a doubt, it's going to be a fight. That could be a five-set match."
Warhill def. Spotsylvania 25-10, 25-19, 25-13
Warhill: Chloe Wilmoth (8 kills, 7 assists), Cori Clifton (14 assists, 6 kills, 4 digs), Nicole Mulligan (8 kills, 8 aces, 7 digs)
WCA Season Ends in VISAA Quarterfinals
Williamsburg Christian Academy's historic volleyball season came to a close Wednesday as the Eagles fell to Stonebridge School 25-14, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18 in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association quarterfinal round.
Second-seeded Stonebridge stifled the WCA offense, holding the Eagles to 13 kills over four sets. Eight of WCA's kills came from Anah Taylor, who also added 11 digs.
While the Eagles dropped the first two sets, they pushed Stonebridge to a fourth set after grinding out a 25-23 third-set victory. Stonebridge responded with a comfortable win in the fourth set to end WCA's season.
WCA finishes its season with a 16-8 record and a new record for the deepest postseason run in program history.
"The girls still stand tall and feel accomplished after the season they have had," WCA Coach Shireah Ragnar said. "Williamsburg definitely went out with a fight and did not make things easy for Stonebridge."
Stonebridge School def. WCA 25-14, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18
WCA: Anah Taylor (8 kills, 11 digs), Nicole Musfelt (7 aces), Emily Jutras (11 digs)