POWHATAN – The four seniors epitomized their on-court roles Thursday night.
McKenna Adams delivered reliable defense and made big dives to keep points alive.
Zoe Higley continued to make timely, smart kills.
And Star Bryant and Sierra Ellison unleashed their versatility and devastating power across Powhatan’s straight-sets victory (25-8, 25-14, 25-11) over Clover Hill on Senior Night.
“It was super fun,” Higley said of their Senior Night game, adding of her teammates: “I’m glad to have played with all them throughout these years.”
With Thursday night’s dominant win, Star described it as a night where they “can just be teammates and bond together as a team.”
“Great night to come out, let all the seniors play all their roles and let them be able to stay on the court, and they played well – all our seniors did well,” said Powhatan head volleyball coach Cindy Bryant, for whom it was an especially touching night, as her daughter Star has been part of 7 seasons that Coach Bryant has coached.
It was Ellison’s first time facing Clover Hill this season – the Cavaliers lost to Powhatan in four sets the first time around when Ellison was sidelined by an ankle injury – and the senior DePaul commit, like she did last night against James River, made her presence known. She varied the strength of her team-leading 16 kills – ranging from surefire winners to lighter dinks and high-arching roll shots – while complementing her powerful offense with sound defense on six digs.
Star Bryant made plays across the court, delivering 2 aces, 8 kills, 2 digs and a block. She also crushed the set winner on a floating comebacker in the second set.
Adams picked up 8 digs in Thursday’s contest. On one huge defensive play, she dove for a ball and hit to send it over the net and just inside Clover Hill’s left sideline to pick up an insurance point for Powhatan at 13-11 in the second set. Adams, also a leading player on her tennis team, added two aces to her night. Having a good toss is essential to a good serve, Adams pointed out, and with tennis, she noted, you’ve got to be able to toss it high for a good serve as well.
Higley had one dig to go along with her strategically-placed four kills on the evening.
“I study the court to figure out where the open spots are,” Higley said, “and then I just figure out what to do to place them in those spots to get those kills.”
Clover Hill delivered their strongest challenge in the second set when they led Powhatan 7-4. But the big hits from Ellison and a fiery ace from Star helped Powhatan claw its way into an 11-10 lead, and the home team set sail from there.
With two games spread across the next two weeks – Manchester on Tuesday, Oct. 22 (7 p.m.) and fellow Times-Dispatch Top 10 team Patrick Henry on Wednesday, Oct. 30 (7 p.m.) – Powhatan expects to “get lots of practice in and lots of disciplined work towards what we know lies ahead of us,” noted Coach Bryant.
One of the glowing attributes of Powhatan (14-2), ranked #6 by the Times-Dispatch, is that the team boasts the best of both worlds, with young talent both excelling and showing promise behind the four seniors. Sophomore setter Bryson Amorese delivered yet another consistent statline with 30 assists, and sophomore Nina Marsho, who like Ellison endured an ankle injury this year, flexed her power on a crushing kill late in the game.
“We’re gonna miss our seniors, but we do have some depth on this team,” Coach Bryant said, adding they’ve got “a fabulous JV group coming up.” One of JV’s players early in the year, sophomore Faith Henderson, got pulled up to varsity and has been a starter on varsity since then.
“We’re excited about the depth of volleyball in Powhatan,” Coach Bryant said.