POWHATAN – When Powhatan Volleyball played at James River last month, it was Sierra Ellison’s first time missing a season game due to an ankle injury that would sideline her for multiple weeks.
But when James River came to Powhatan High School for the Indians’ Pink Out Game Wednesday night, it was Ellison’s first game back in full.
And she showed as much.
The senior DePaul commit dove for digs, hammered fiery kills past the opposition and served for 14 straight points to help Powhatan complete its season sweep of James River (25-14, 25-9, 16-25, 27-25).
“It felt good – I was happy to be back because I was gone for 4 weeks," Ellison said. "It took a little while to…get back into the swing of things, I had been out for so long."
“I was super proud of her,” Powhatan head coach Cindy Bryant said of Ellison. “She came out swinging hard, making smart shots – just the Sierra that we know and depend on. It’s a beautiful time to have her back in force because here we go, getting ready for regional play. It’s nice that we can have her these last couple district games, get back in our groove with…who’s going to be playing the most and gelling in that look again.”
Ellison double-doubled with 13 kills and 14 digs while rolling out 5 aces and adding a block. She delivered a kill along the left sideline in the second set that sent her back to serve with her team up 13-9.
She never stopped serving that set, helping her team go unanswered for the 25-9 win and extending her serving streak by two more points into the third stanza.
She excelled at spot-serving, and she would alternate between going deep-float and short serve to catch her opponents off-guard. She also found open spaces to deliver her mid-strength roll shots – in between the lighter dinks and her more powerful attacks – to pick up points for her team.
Her teammate, senior Star Bryant, delivered an assist, 3 digs, 4 blocks and 10 kills, including a laser off a comebacker from the Rapids as well as a smartly placed short attack into the shallow corner to keep the Indians in the mix in a competitive fourth set.
Sophomore Bryson Amorese honed in on the ball for 31 assists, sophomore Kendal McMullin continued her strong play of late with 5 digs against the Rapids and Natalie Mueller added 2 digs and 1 block to 8 kills, including a kill for match-point. Sophomore Faith Henderson made timely plays including a dink to set up Mueller’s decisive kill.
Tuesday’s win was one set shorter than the first time the two teams saw each other, when Powhatan, down both Ellison and Nina Marsho, edged past the hosting Rapids in a 5-set gem.
And to start off this latest meeting, the Indians cruised to a 2-set lead behind Ellison’s powerful presence. But the Rapids came fighting back, dominating the third set and then going toe-to-toe with the home team to tie Set 4 up to 25-all. Powhatan in the middle and late stretches of the set had to surge for a couple of three-point bursts to keep even, but the go-ahead and winning plays from Henderson and Mueller, respectively, capped the 27-25 thriller to secure the match victory for the Indians.
Powhatan’s depth continues to shine with a plethora of players who can make a variety of plays.
“It’s amazing because I know that Star and Natalie both got great kills, and so did Faith (Henderson),” Ellison said Wednesday. “Everyone was doing a great job.”
Powhatan’s attack is especially deep with the arms of Ellison, Star, Mueller, Henderson and versatile Kenzie Urbine leading the way.
But as they head into another big matchup against Clover Hill, a team that earlier in the season took them to 4 sets, Ellison noted the importance of consistency.
“I think…in the third set, we did not stay consistent with our plays,” Ellison said Wednesday.
Coach Bryant added: “We have to learn better about how to have mistakes and move past them to the next good thing…we’ve been doing a lot of work on that but we’ve still got work to do.”
But Coach Bryant was glad they were able to pull off the win.
“We’re at a point, with region play, we need every win we can get right now,” she said. “That loss to Monacan was huge as far as region terms...and we want to be in a little bit more ideal spot heading into regional play than we are right now, so every one of these wins is going to help us with that.”
Powhatan hosts Clover Hill in the Indians’ Senior Night tomorrow night (Thursday, Oct. 17) at 7 p.m.
“I think the key with Clover Hill is just the mindset,” Coach Bryant said. “They’re scrappy and they fight hard, and we’ve just got to come out fighting harder.”