Wildcats Three-Peat

Wildcats Three-Peat

THE RC volleyball players and coaches celebrate winning their third consecutive Valley District championship after defeating Spotswood 3-0 on Tuesday of last week in Lexington. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photo)

Wildcats Three-Peat

AT LEFT, Wildcat senior hitter Graceon Armstrong holds up the Wildcats’ two Valley District championship trophies, for the regular-season title and for the tournament, as teammates Krissy Whitesell (4), Jaydyn Clemmer
(6), Meredith Lawhorn (second from right) and Emma Lawson (8) join her in celebrating. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photos)

Wildcats Three-Peat

THE WILDCATS’ players and coaches enjoy a moment with their trophies after winning the Valley District championship match. Holding the trophies are seniors Graceon Armstrong (left) and Meredith Lawhorn. RC head coach Amanda McCoy (back row, second from left) was named district coach of the year for the third consecutive year. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photo)

Wildcats Three-Peat

ABOVE, RC junior outside hitter Jaydyn Clemmer embraces her mother, Karen, after receiving the Valley District player of the year award.

Clemmer Named Valley District’s Player Of Year

For the third consecutive year, the Rockbridge County High School volleyball team won the Valley District championship, defeating Spotswood 3-0 on Tuesday of last week in Lexington.

The first two sets were close early on, but the Wildcats (24-4), who were the district regular-season champions after going 10-0 to earn the top seed in the tournament, pulled away from the scrappy Blazers (11-12) in each. RC jumped to an 11-4 lead in the third set, on its way to winning 25-18, 25-18, 25-13. The match consisted of many long rallies, with both teams hustling to keep the ball in play.

Second-seeded Spotswood, which had lost to the Wildcats 3-0 twice during the regular season, with several close sets, had advanced to the finals by defeating third-seeded Broadway 3-1 in the semifinals the night before.

Graceon Armstrong led the Wildcats with 14 kills and four blocks and collected six digs. Jaydyn Clemmer, who made a kill on match point, had 12 kills and 13 digs. Krissy Whitesell added 32 assists and nine digs. The three teammates were all named to the all-district first team, and Clemmer, a junior outside hitter who committed to playing volleyball at Virginia Tech the week before, was named Valley District player of the year.

Reflecting on the award, Clemmer said, “My main goal coming into the season was just to be a great teammate and to always lift them up because I knew that our physical ability wasn’t going to be a big problem, but the team bonding and how we treat each other was going to be a big deal. So I came in having a mindset that I need to not only help myself but help everyone else on the court. … To get this, it just meant a lot. It’s not me that this is reflecting. It’s pouring into everybody else.”

RC head coach Amanda McCoy was named Valley District coach of the year for the third year in a row. Praising Clemmer for her honor, McCoy said, She has worked extremely hard. She has had the drive and determination since she started here in eighth grade [for the junior varsity team]. She’s a very valuable part of our team. She’s super humble at the same time, which makes her a great kid to have as a teammate and as a player.”

McCoy said she was also proud of the leadership of Armstrong, a senior middle and outside hitter who was named Region 3C player of the year last year. “I’m very proud of every girl on the team,” McCoy added. Armstrong, Clemmer and White-sell, a sophomore setter, are RC’s three co-captains.

Commending her coach, Clemmer said, “She’s definitely taught us how to have true grit when we’re out there playing, never giving up and always being honest about fixing things.”

On winning three consecutive district titles, Clemmer said, “It’s just surreal, being able to be so successful in high school.”

Armstrong said the third title “means a lot. It’s really impressive to watch from the beginning of the season, from the first day of practice to now, some huge changes and the team camaraderie, and the way the players have just put in work. We’ve just really bought into Coach McCoy’s idea of how we can play.”

RC libero Emma Lawson led all players with 22 digs, and she was named to the all-district second team. Another second team selection, Grace Cauley, led the Wildcats with four aces and had five kills. Other all-district second team selections for the Wildcats were Aiyana Cooper and McKenzie Hines.

Ellie Roach led Spotswood with nine kills, and fellow all-district first teamer Gabby Atwell had 12 blocks, five kills and eight assists. Other Spotswood leaders were Cate Secrist with 18 digs and Madelyn Williams with 12 assists.

Spotswood head coach Jim Roth said the Wildcats were tough because “they have really strong defense. They have a lot of girls that can also put the ball down on offense.”

“We let them get out to some early leads, and then we had to battle back,” Roth added. “We had a slow start, but then I thought we battled the whole way.”

Crediting Spotswood for challenging the Wildcats, Armstrong said, “They pass really well. They’re scrappy. They went little bit more up the middle this time, so that was an adjustment we made. I think when the girls got through the first set and kept their composure, and we really found the drive to step up.”

Both RC and Spotswood advanced to the Region 1C tournament. The Wildcats, who have won the last two regional championships, earned the third seed and were scheduled to play host to Western Albemarle for a quarterfinal match yesterday.

RC 3, HHS 0

The Wildcats cruised to a 3-0 win over Harrisonburg in the Valley District semifinals on Monday of last week in Lexington.

RC only trailed the fourth-seeded Blue Streaks (5-16) briefly in the first set before capturing a 25-13, 25-13, 25-6 victory. Harrisonburg, the only Class 5 school in the Valley District, will continue tournament play but is in a different region than the rest of the schools in the district, which are smaller Class 3 schools.

Against Harrisonburg, a team the Wildcats swept during the regular season, the first two sets were close before RC pulled away. In the third set, RC jumped out to an 8-0 lead on Clemmer’s serve, and Harrisonburg never threatened a comeback.

Clemmer had nine kills and 12 digs for RC, and Graceon Armstrong added 14 kills, 13 digs and four blocks. Cauley stepped up with eight aces and two kills. “Her serving has definitely been a bright point,” McCoy said of Cauley. “She’s been progressively working on that and getting better. She’s one of the top servers we have, points-wise.”

Other RC leaders were Whitesell with 25 assists and two blocks, Lawson with nine digs, and Cooper with four kills and two blocks.

Harrisonburg’s leaders were Jay Garcia with three kills and Amelia Mitchell with three blocks.

Overall, McCoy said the Wildcats were efficient, but sometimes “could do a little bit better job of knowing where our blocks are.” She said they would work on that in preparing for the regional tournament, and the coaches would try to reenergize the players as they move on in the playoffs. “We’re eager to keep going down the road and seeing how far we can get,” she said.

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