Lady Skyhawks take their first conference championship crown

L.C. Bird girls volleyball head coach Sarah Iruegas’ stump quote for the 2013 volleyball season is “To win without risk is to triumph without glory.” After gutting out two five set thrillers over Manchester, the lady Skyhawks beat the Lancers in three sets to capture the first conference 12 volleyball championship in history.

“We’ve proved a lot of people wrong this year,” said libero Carrie Cochran, a member of the conference 12 first team. “It’s been a big source of motivation for us as a team.”

The Skyhawks earned a first round bye in the tournament before dispatching Clover Hill and then Manchester. Beating a team three times in a single season is a reasonably difficult task.
“We didn’t do anything differently,” said Iruegas.”The girls just played.”

A big reason for the team’s success has been the conference 12 and Village News girls volleyball player of the year Courtney Wiseman, who registered 21 kills and 19 digs against Manchester.

“She [Wiseman] plays her heart out and deserves player of the year,” explained Cochran. “She makes everyone on this team better.”

Junior setter Jessica Bradbury continued her great play setting a school record with 443 assists.

After the conference 12 crown for the Lady Skyhawks, a regional match against Lee-Davis was played at Meadowbrook. (Results posted on twitter @VNewsSports).

Also standing out in the championship game was Julia Stech with 15 digs and 6 kills while Lache Harper enforced on the front line with 5 blocks.

Moving to the boys side, the Matoaca Warriors advanced to the conference final after defeating L.C. Bird and winning a five set match with Patrick Henry to face Clover Hill. Despite losing 3-1 to the Cavaliers, setter Brandon Harper and the Warriors looked to take a game in the region Monday against Glen Allen (results published on twitter @VNewsSports).

The Warriors employ the great all-around play of Harper who was honored as the co-conference 12 player of the year and is widely considered to be one of the best volleyball players in the area. Rick Spiers, Josh Elmore and Brandon Rodriguez create a fearsome kill/block squad.

According to head coach conference 12 co-coach of the year Adam Griffin, passing has been one of the things that’s been improving for the Warriors as the season progressed and it’s shown in the postseason.

The Matoaca girls fell to Manchester in the conference 12 semi-finals. The team was led by Jaelyn Jackson, who had 233 kills and is headed to the University of Maryland next season.

All-conference 12 second team honorees senior Sarah Temple and junior Taylor Morris provided solid play, and senior Brenda Tapp was one of the most efficient servers in the area at a 95 percent service success rate. The Warriors finished their season 16-6.

Both the Thomas Dale boys and girls took an early exit in the conference 3 tournament. The boys fell to Cosby and the girls to Patrick Henry-Roanoke. The boys finished their season at 13-7 and the girls at 10-10.

The boys were led by conference 3 player of the year Will Ragland, who finished with 418 kills, 92 digs, 62 blocks and 36 assists. For his play, Ragland was also selected as the Village News volleyball player of the year. Senior Andrew Ray also turned in a standout year for Thomas Dale with 181 kills, 77 blocks and 74 digs. Ragland has a number of division II and division III schools interested and will certainly play at the next level. Both Ragland and Ray earned all-conference 3 first team honors, while Cory Allgood, Johnny Kimenhour and Taylor Trueheart were named to the second team.

Though finishing 10-10, the girls have a lot to build on, losing just one senior starter in Bethany Brown, who was a great leader for the Knights. Sydney Frink, a sophomore, was named to the an all-conference 3 second team. Frink plays a balanced game gathering 163 kills, 172 digs and 93 assists and considered a college prospect. Makalah Cribb and Taylor Palmer, also underclassmen, stood out for the Knights. With that young core returning, Dale is set up for success in 2014.

The Bird boys along with the Meadowbrook boys and girls experienced growing pains in 2013, falling in the first rounds of their conference tournaments and will look to improve for 2014.

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