Warriors and Knights battle for Central lead

“We’re looking forward to the rematch,” were the unusual words from Thomas Dale’s Jacob LeSueur after the Knights fell last week at Matoaca. The loss marked the end of an incredible district unbeaten streak for the Knights.

LeSueur recognizes that other teams in the area are catching up when it comes to volleyball. “If we hope to continue our post-season run, we’re going to have to follow the leadership of Jake McCall and show much more focus in practice,” he said.

To the south, Ethan Bickford is excited to be a part of the emergence of Matoaca volleyball over the last three seasons. He is proud of the team effort that has allowed the Warriors to find themselves at the top of the Central District standings at the season’s mid-point.

“Our back line has been so solid,” he said. “It all starts with them, allowing me to set up the likes of Ryan Clapman, Matt Harper and Del Ramsey.”

Bickford and LeSueur are two of the leading assist men in the Richmond area. Though the oohs and ahhs come from the big kills, these points would not be possible without the set ups from Bickford and LeSueur.

The two young men took similar paths to volleyball. Both were predominately soccer players at the beginning of their high school years. In both cases, they had become a little burned out with soccer and were looking for another sport to try in the fall. Both have fallen in love with volleyball, which now takes top billing in their athletic lives. “The pace of the game is so much faster. There is high intensity in every point,” said Bickford.

Bickford and LeSueur both sing the praises of their coaches, Mike Walker at Thomas Dale and Adam Griffin at Matoaca. Both coaches came to the game from other sports, much like their leading assist men. Learning as they have gone along, both have become highly respected among their peers.

“Coach Walker’s passion for the game is evident, not only in games, but in every practice,” said LeSueur.

Volleyball crowds are growing. “Our fellow students are becoming more familiar with the game and they are coming out to support us in large numbers. When I started, it was mostly just parents. It’s nice when you can feel a big crowd behind you,” said Bickford.

The Warriors and Knights will meet again later this month with a Central District Title and a berth in the Regional Tournament at stake. Bickford and LeSueur are sure to provide huge assists to their teams as they look to advance.

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