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By Bryan Hoopaugh
Last week the reigning District 7 1A rural volleyball champs (Williston Lady Red Devils) held regional semi-finals at the WHS gymnasium hosting Taylor Pierson Nov. 5 for the first round. The first round of playoffs were everything a sports fan could want with a taste of every kind of victory a team could have.
The first game Williston won by a score of 28-26 as the volleys and leads changed back and forth through out the game and ultimately came to a 24-24 tie that continued through 26-26 before Williston’s Morgan Vanasco took the serve back from Taylor with a serve out of bounds. A good serve by Vanasco followed by a pounding kill by Vanasco as well gave the Lady Devils the 28-26 victory.
The second game was dominated by Taylor in the first half of the game and Williston found themselves down by a score of 8-16. Kills by Shabree Porter and Vanasco mixed with excellent defensive digs and blocks by the Lady Devils put the Ladies back in contention for a second victory. Megan Dixon had a five point serving streak with Williston down by three 20-23 for the come from behind win 25-23.
With the first two games under the Red Devils’ belt they took the court for the third game of the match which proved to be the final game. The Lady Devils took the court with a mission and played with a vengeance pounding Taylor 25-13 in a match that Taylor only lead once by a score of 0-1. Upon Williston regaining the serve at a 1-1 score, they never looked back. Blocks by Jackie Hatcher and Chelsea Dola dominated the front line and stole the spirit right out of their opponent.
With a victory in championship fashion through the first round Williston took home court advantage hosting district rival Newberry last Saturday. Williston and Newberry split the regular season with each team recording wins when playing on their home court. The last meeting between the two teams Williston took the win at home with three straight wins for the sweep.
When Newberry came back to town though, they had not forgotten the sweep and had a different plan in mind for the regionals.
The Lady Red Devils fell to the Panthers in a fast played first game only to come back in the second game with a 28-18 win in a game Newberry never lead and gave up the game point to Williston with a serve into the net.
With both teams now having one win each, the teams took the court for game three. This game the lead went back and forth and the vollies seemed to get longer and longer as each team played stellar defense. Down 15-22 Williston began their rally of points for another come from behind win only to fall short and lose the third game by a score of 20-25 giving the Panthers a two games to one lead in the match.
Williston bounced right back in the fourth game and again showed off a dominant performance with Vanasco and Porter slamming kills down on the Panthers. Williston’s defensive efforts held the Panthers to just 16 points and Williston again tied the match games at two a piece with a 25-16 win in game four.
The teams took the court for a fifth game which is a do or die race to fifteen. Newberry served first and took a one point lead right off the bat. Down 0-2 Vanasco was set up for a kill by Dola and Williston was on the board 1-2. Newberry held the Lady Devils at bay though and quickly took back control of the serve. Williston was not able to gain the lead from the Panthers through the rest of the match and the Lady Red Devils fell to Newberry by a score of 9-15 and the great winning 2013 season came to a close for Williston.
Williston has seven seniors that will graduate this year. This years senior players were Darby Battle, Morgan Vanasco, Krystal Joseph, Jackie Hatcher, Chelsea Dola, Sarah Dominico and Taylor Whilden. It will be on the shoulders of the upcoming senior class and rising JV players to continue the winning tradition coach Kim Nivala and her team have now made a standard for the Lady Devils.