PM Still Seeking First Win

Article Image Alt Text
Article Image Alt Text
Article Image Alt Text
Blues Drop Home Matches To Riverheads, Gap

Home losses to River-heads and Buffalo Gap on consecutive nights last week left the Parry McCluer High School volleyball team still in search of its first victory of the fall.

But the Fighting Blues (0-5) saw a tremendous amount of progress from one night to the next – even with star outside hitter Chloe Persinger sidelined due to injury before the latter match against the Bison.

Last Wednesday, PM fell 3-0 to the Gladiators. Abbey Eavers totaled 12 kills and Dayton Moore tallied 30 assists and four kills to lead Riverheads to a 25-10, 25-14, 25-11 win.

Kendyl Argenbright and Sydney Phillips each posted five kills for the Gladiators. The visitors also racked up 21 service aces, led by seven from Phillips, five from Moore, and four apiece from Argenbright and Samantha Persinger.

Chloe Persinger paced the Blues with three aces and two kills. Grayson Shields also notched a pair of kills, and Kennedi Burton finished with two blocks.

But PM never looked truly competitive in the match. Although the Gladiators are a strong program – Riverheads reached the Class 1 state championship match in 2018 – the Blues didn’t cope well with the quality of the opposition.

“Honestly, we’re just not coming together as a team,” PM head coach Shannon Stiltner said. “The girls are going to have to work a little bit harder. We’ve got to move more and talk more.”

Riverheads put its stamp on the match early, assuming a 13-2 lead in the opening set and never looking back. Six different players scored for the Gladiators’ offense in the first frame.

Eavers took over in the second set, putting down seven kills in the stanza. The Blues’ offense showed a few signs of life, with Shields notching both of her kills during the set, but the combination of Riverheads’ attack and serving game proved to be too much to overcome.

The Gladiators also tallied the first six points of the third set. Any doubts about the outcome disappeared midway through the frame, when Phillips served off four straight aces to push the margin to 20-8.

Stiltner knows that the Blues need to improve their cohesiveness and chemistry as their Pioneer District schedule gets underway this week.

“Right now, I’ve got a bunch of individuals running around everywhere,” the PM coach said. “Somebody’s got to step up and take control. … If we make a mistake, it’s all right. We don’t have to make 10 or 20 before we decide to play.”

Gap 3, PM 0

Gap knocked off PM 3-0 in Buena Vista on Thursday.

The Bison completed a season sweep of the Blues with a 25-16, 25-20, 25-15 victory. Amaya Lucas paced a balanced Gap attack with nine kills, while Natalie Robertson chalked up seven kills and Leah Sherrill totaled six kills and nine aces. EmmaKate Maxwell finished with 16 assists and three aces for the Bison.

Sydney Taylor recorded four aces for PM. Jordan Dawson led the Blues’ offense with three kills, while Shields and Cassie Carte each tallied a pair of aces and Burton notched one block.

While the final result was the same as on the previous night, the Blues showed some key signs of improvement against Gap. And they did so without Persinger, an all-district selection from last season, who picked up an injury in between matches and didn’t dress out on Thursday.

“It’s the first time we’ve come together and played as a team,” Stiltner said. “They picked up the slack where Chloe wasn’t here tonight. I’m proud of them. I know we lost, but that’s by far the best that we’ve played all year long.”

Still, the absence of Persinger was noticeable – particularly on the back row, where the Blues struggled with serve-receive.

That was especially true in the first set. PM had crafted an early 12-6 lead, getting both of Shields’ aces during a 7-0 run. But Sherrill’s left-handed serve gave the Blues fits, as she reeled off eight aces and 12 straight service points to put the Bison ahead for good at 19-12.

Gap jumped ahead 8-1 in the second set. PM battled back to tie things up at 18-18 on an ace from Burton, but the Bison outscored the Blues 7-2 down the stretch. Gap then ran off the first eight points of the final frame, maintaining a sizable working margin throughout to claim the win.

PM will now look to turn its progress into some victories on the volleyball court. And in the long run, the Blues could also benefit from playing a couple of matches without one of their top performers.

“When [Persinger] was off the floor, we had to have everybody step up; it couldn’t be just one person,” Stiltner said. “And everybody did. Anybody I put out there, they did the best that they could, and that’s all you can ask.”

PM was slated to take on Rockbridge County at home last night. The Blues will open up Pioneer District play against Bath County in Buena Vista on Thursday. They’ll then play at James River on Monday before returning to district action at Highland County on Tuesday. All three nights will start with junior varsity action at 5:30 p.m.

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

Email Us

Facebook Twitter