Jamestown’s size and power was too much for Tabb to handle on the road Wednesday evening, as the Eagles routed the Tigers in straight sets 25-16, 25-22, 28-8.
Led by a trio of 6-foot-plus players – Emma Schriner, Ellie Popelka and Maria Esch – the Jamestown front line was nearly impenetrable and imposed its will on offense and defense.
When on the attack, the dynamic Eagles were able to find favorable angles with their height and overpower defenders when going for kills. On defense, Jamestown’s collective height allowed the Eagles to protect the net and set up easy counterattacks.
“It gives us a huge advantage,” Jamestown Coach Tom Stephenson said of his team’s height. “When we control the ball and we can run out big three, we’re pretty tough to defend. It’s a real treat to have three dominant, dynamic hitters like that so a team can’t load up on one hitter.”
After falling behind 2-0 quickly in the first set, Jamestown calmed down and began to show its dominance. The Eagles rebounded from the quick two-point hole by scoring 12 out of the next 15 points and led by as many as nine points before cruising to a 25-16 first-set victory.
The second set was the most competitive of the match, with the Tigers giving Jamestown all it could handle on offense and defense. Spurred by scrappy play by Ashley Muhich, who finished the match with 10 digs, the Tabb defense was able to withstand attack attempts from Jamestown that likely would have gone for points in the first set.
Jamestown jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead in the second set before the Tigers began clawing their way back. Tabb slowly started winning a majority of points before stringing together a four-point run to close the gap to two points at 17-15.
Tabb brought the second set within one point twice — once at 22-21 and again at 23-22 — but were done in by untimely errors. Jamestown eked out the second set 25-22 and avoided a momentum shift in favor of Tabb.
Trailing 2-0 after dropping the close second set, the Tabb team was clearly deflated in set three. A 5-0 Jamestown run to start the third set prompted a Tabb timeout that proved largely ineffective.
The Eagles went back to overpowering the Tigers at the net and hammered home point after point before closing out the match in a decisive 25-8 final set.
“I thought they did a lot of things really well, but we’re still working on the timing of our offense. We’re trying to run a really fast offense,” Stephenson said of his Eagles. “Anytime you start your first match of the year and you sweep a team in three, you can’t be but so unhappy. It’s a good start.”
Jamestown will not have much time to dwell on its season-opening victory. The Eagles will have to play back-to-back road matches against two of the top teams in the Bay Rivers District in Lafayette and Warhill — both of whom are rivals for Jamestown.
The Eagles (1-0) will take on Lafayette on Tuesday and Warhill on Sept. 10, with both matches beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Tabb (0-1) will face a quick turnaround as the Tigers prepare to host New Kent on Thursday.
Jamestown def. Tabb 25-16, 25-22, 25-8
Jamestown: Emma Schriner (11 kills), Maggie Viniard (23 assists, 8 aces), Ellie Popelka (10 kills)
Tabb: Ashley Muhich (10 digs, ace), Audre’ana Ellis (2 kills, 8 kills)