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Bulldogs volleyball loses five-set thriller in states

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Goochland Volleyball

The Bulldogs huddle before a game versus Western Albemarle on Oct. 6.

It’s been an exciting journey seeing the development of Goochland volleyball’s senior class, and after a five-set thriller at the VHSL Class 3 state quarterfinals, it was finally the end of the road.

Goochland battled in a back-and-forth affair with host-team York High School, but it was the Falcons who ultimately came out on top, ending the Bulldogs’ season with a 15-9 fifth set tiebreaker that advanced them to the state semifinals and sent the Bulldogs home.

York opened the game with a 25-15 win in the first set, but Goochland regrouped and settled into its own game by taking the second set 25-19.

The Falcons battled back into the lead with 25-17 win in the third set to take a 2-1 advantage, but the seesaw between ties and leads continued with the Bulldogs coming back with a 25-20 fourth set victory to set up a tiebreaker showdown that went in favor of the Falcons.

Goochland’s senior class, which features Layla Ford, Nicole Brown, Nina Smith and Laura Lee Baldwin, capped off an impressive stint with the team that saw the Bulldogs reach at least the state quarterfinals in each of the past four seasons.

Leading the team in kills was a 10-kill performance from Avery Jastrzemski, who also added 14 digs. From the senior class, Smith pitched in eight kills in her final performance as a Bulldog, while Ford finished her high school volleyball career with seven kills and 12 digs.

Along with four kills and a team-high 24 assists from Brown and a team-high 20 digs from Baldwin, Goochland’s top players stepped up when the team needed them most, despite York narrowly coming away with the win.

Before their matchup with York, the Bulldogs had a chance at claiming the region title in a championship matchup against Warren County, which the Wildcats were able to win in four sets.

The Bulldogs won the opening set 25-20, but the Wildcats were able to come back and rail off wins in three consecutive sets, with wins of 25-18, 25-15 and a wild 27-25 fourth set that closed out a hard-fought game from both sides of the net.

In that game, the team was led in kills by Jastrzemski yet again, this time recording 15 kills in the region final. Jastrzemski was also second on the team in digs with 16 that was only behind freshman defensive specialist Marin Pullen, who finished with 20.

Smith again added eight kills during the final on 30 attacks to go with five digs, while Ava Garrison and Ford played a solid game defensively with 15 digs apiece.

Like in states, it was an admirable performance from the team despite the Bulldogs ending up on the losing end.

With the season reaching its conclusion, the Bulldogs had plenty of highs during the season, including a 15-9 overall record, a five-game winning streak to open the year and a regional runner-up accolade that showcased the team as one of the toughest in the region and in the state.

Next year, head coach Rachel Jacobsen will see returnees like Jastrzemski, Amelia Capone, Adele Wheatley and Ava Garrison return with the hopes of returning to the state tournament and filling the shoes of a talented and well-respected senior class in the process.

Robby Fletcher can be reached at rfletcher@powhatantoday.com.

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