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Lady Comets earn regional berth

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / November 06, 2013
Halifax County High School varsity volleyball has clinched a trip to 5-A North regional action Saturday, after an important shutdown win over Patrick-Henry Ashland Monday in conference 16 tournament semifinal action.

The Comets, who drilled PH-Ashland in three games, will meet the state’s no. 3 team, Albemarle, in tonight’s conference tournament finals. The match is set for 6 p.m. at Albemarle HS.

Regardless of the outcome tonight in Charlottesville, HCHS hosts a 5-A north regional game Saturday. That’s an elimination game. The Comets will meet either North Stafford or Mountain View.

That match is set for 2 p.m. at the Halifax County Middle School. The HCHS gym is not available, because of the Holiday Living show.

HCHS drilled PH-Ashland, three games to none, in Monday’s conference semfinal action at the Blues’ gym.

HCHS shook off a bit of a sluggish start and won the first game, 25-19.

The Comets breezed in game two, 25-8, and completed the sweep with a 25-16 win in game three.

Chris Bradshaw led HCHS with nine aces, while first team all-district selection Gabrielle Spainhour had six and Cecilie Elliott had three.

Whitney White led with eight kills, as she continues to play very consistently. Spainhour had seven and Bradshaw six. Bradshaw also had 19 total serves, with Elliott getting 12 and Spainhour 11.

Taylor Barnes and Bradshaw had 19 digs and Megan Puckett 12. Spainhour had 30 sets and Elliott 28.

Spainhour had a terrific floor game, leading the Comets with seven kills and 21 attacks, while Bradshaw had 17 attacks.

White had a superb block at the net to help the Comets to an early 3-1 lead in game one, and Puckett delivered a strong return for a 4-2 advantage. PH-Ashland battled back to a 4-4 tie.

Spainhour had a superb return at the net for a 5-4 Comet lead, and, moments later, PH led, 6-5, but HCHS later regained the momentum and took a 10-7 lead when Puckett’s serve spilled over the net and then fell in an unreturnable spot.

HCHS later extended the lead to 14-10.

White later delivered a strong return over the net, with a tricky tailspin, and the Comets had a 16-11 lead.

Another powerful return by Bradshaw sent the Comets to a 17-11 lead.

Spainhour drilled the ball fro an 18-11 advantage.

Barnes then turned in an athletic play for a 19-12 Comet edge. HCHS later had strong teamwork en route to a 23-18 lead, and Megan Puckett delivered a strong serve to put the Comets on the cusp of winning the first match. An excellent return from White that sailed away from PH then guaranteed the 25-19 final at the end of game one.

The Lady Comets scampered to an 10-1 lead in game two, and never was in any real trouble. PH returned the ball out of bounds, facing a 12-2 deficit, and strong net play by Spainhour ensured a 14-2 lead for the Comets.

HCHS later extended the margin to 18-8, and moments later, Bradshaw delivered a perfect spike at the net for a 20-8 lead.

Spainhour, serving to close out the second game, drilled it past PH for the 25-8 final.

HCHS again jumped all over PH early in game three, leading 8-2. Elliott had a nifty return for a 10-4 Comet lead. PH pulled within 11-8, but the Comets rallied and made it 15-8.

Spainhour had a strong kill for a 16-9 lead by HCHS.

Halifax made it 20-11, and Megan Nunn added a strong serve to push the Comet advantage to 22-11.

Barnes had a nice play at 23-14.

Bradshaw delivered an excellent return for a 24-16 lead, and then Spainhour blasted the match-clinching serve for a 25-16 final and the three-game sweep of PH-Ashland.

Comet coach Tiffaney Bratton praised the Comet power game.

“This is a big win for us. I remember back in 1989 when I was playing. We won the district and still didn’t get a chance to host a regional tournament game. This is a real big thing for us and I’m going to stress that to the girls. The conference has given us a second bite at the apple.”

Bratton saw some sluggish play early, but noted HCHS stepped up its power game.

“We had good energy and we moved and we talked,” said Spainhour. “We had good sets and good passes that led to the kills.”

Spainhour said she and her teammates were able to exploit the PH-Ashland weaknesses.

Now, it’s on to AHS, and a demanding assignment.

“We know they’re ranked third in the state. If the girls play up to their potential, we can play with anybody,” said Bratton.

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