Clayton powers Chiefs past Region 4B opponent 25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-21
POWHATAN -- The two Class 4, Region B finalists from this past spring went to head-to-head once more - this time at Powhatan High School's gymnasium - and while the defending regional champions, led by senior Abbey Clayton, emerged victorious over the Powhatan Indians again (25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-21), Powhatan head coach Cindy Bryant and her team were encouraged after their competitive match with the Chiefs. Following a tough straight-sets loss to Midlothian the week prior, Powhatan emphasized passing in the practices leading up to Tuesday's game, and it's paid off, Bryant said. She was "super proud" of her team following the game, and she noted that they had been working to "really get the focus on progress, not perfection."
"Tonight was major progress over last Tuesday," Bryant said. "We'll take it."
Sophomore Sam Flippo, who was celebrating her 16th birthday on Tuesday, was a major force up the middle for Powhatan. She led the team with 12 kills and added three digs.
Senior utility player Faith Henderson also had a big night as she double-doubled with 11 kills and 10 digs and added 2 blocks and 1 ace.
Senior Emilie McDaniels, who did not play against Midlothian, took on the second setter role on Tuesday as part of the team's goal to get a little more consistency in its set location. As a result, McDaniels was able to showcase her versatility as she delivered 3 aces, 2 kills and six digs to go along with her team-leading 17 assists.
Junior Olivia Moss made 15 assists and also showed her versatility with 4 kills, 1 ace and five digs.
Senior Libero Kendal McMullin "dug the daylights" out of hard-hitting Clayton according to Bryant as she racked up 24 digs. McMullin also had 1 kill and 1 ace.
Junior Carly Rehme assembled two serving stretches that keyed Powhatan to its second-set victory. She tallied up 4 aces, 4 kills and 16 digs. McMullin and Rehme led the way in absorbing several monster shots launched by Clayton, who was Monacan's centerpiece on offense.
Down by one set, Powhatan trailed Monacan 7-3 in the second when Flippo rocked a kill to send her teammate Rehme back to serve. The junior's linear serve combined with kills from Flippo, Moss and junior hitter Chesed Russell to catapult Powhatan ahead of Monacan at 11-7.
The Chiefs battled back to tie the match at 15-15, but Henderson and Russell each added a kill, Flippo continued to fire on all cylinders as she mixed in three attacks for points in a late 5-1 run and McDaniels added a block during a 4-0 serving stretch by Rehme that put Powhatan on set point at 24-18.
A Powhatan serve that went out and an attack from Clayton helped Monacan tighten the lead, but Flippo put away the second set for Powhatan on the next point.
The Indians in the fourth set surged out of a 17-13 deficit with the help of three aces from McDaniels to take the lead at 18-17. But Clayton continued to complement her hammering swing with stellar consistency, as she swung the Chiefs back into the lead on back-to-back kills.
Clayton landed 5 of the Chiefs' final 8 points. Contributing 1 each in that stretch were Isabella Kvetensky on a setter dump and Macy Kane on a service ace to shallow space. Monacan clinched match point on a Powhatan serve that hit the net.
In addition to weathering many of Clayton's crushing attacks and finding a rhythm with their passing, placement and defending, Powhatan drilled several attacks past the Chiefs' defenders and to the backline for uncontested kills. Serving was also smart, aggressive and consistent across the board for Powhatan. Assistant coach Jason Musick calls the serves, and Bryant said that the players "really listen to him."
Powhatan will look to continue its progress with tonight's 7 p.m. matchup at James River.