ASHLAND – Patrick Henry boys volleyball coach Michael Townsend looked toward the past, but planned for the future in both in the Class 4, Western Section quarterfinals Wednesday night as his Patriots began their quest for a fourth-straight state championship with a 3-0 sweep of rival Hanover.
Patrick Henry (15-4) scored 14 of the first 17 points of the match to roll to a 25-9 first-set win. The Patriots used their bench in the next two sets, but the Hawks responded with resilience, leading early before the Patriots took a small lead and held on for a 25-21 set two triumph, then taking the final set 25-20.
The Patriots served 13 aces, while Ted Owen had six of Patrick Henry’s 26 kills on the night. The Hawks were led by Conor McFadden, who had a match-high eight kills along with eight digs.
“I think playoffs are always a good position to put players in, especially young players,” Townsend said of his decision to go to the bench. “It wasn’t pretty, but they were able to stay focused, keep a lead, and slowly win both.”
It also kept starters fresh for the final push, as the Patriots’ ultimate goal is to be on the floor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center when the Virginia High School League Class 4 boys state championship is decided on Nov. 21.
The Patriot girls team, on the court at the same time at Spotsylvania, also came away with a 3-0 victory (25-22, 25-16, 27-25) in quarterfinal action, bringing them with a win of a berth in their Class 4 state tournament. Also in Western Section play, the Lee-Davis boys advanced to the semifinal round with a four-set victory at Monacan.
Just 12 miles from Patrick Henry at Glen Allen High School, an hour after the Patriots’ triumph, the Atlee girls volleyball team clinched a return to the Class 5 state championship, taking an impressive sweep of the host Jaguars in a Region 5B semifinal 25-19, 25-19, 25-20.
The Raiders (18-2) were down in the third set, but battled back for an 18-17 lead before a middle kill from Kara Hammock and an ace from libero Rylie Harris upped the lead to three, forcing a Glen Allen timeout. Match point came on a Jaguar serving error, sending Atlee back to the state tournament, led by Kaylin Strichman with nine kills and eight from Jada Foreman.
Atlee will play a Class 5 state quarterfinal Saturday.
Rob Witham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.