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Well, we didn’t see that one coming.
Jefferson Forest saw its spectacular volleyball season come to a close, as Cave Spring topped the Lady Cavs on their home court.
The scores were 25-14, 23-25, 25-15, 25-13.
The Lady Cavs’ first loss of the season denied them a trip to Richmond for the State semifinals and the shot at a state title.
That honor would eventually go to Loudoun County, which defeated Cave Spring in the semifinals and Grafton in the finals.
“We are all very drained and pretty down,” assessed JF Head Coach Steve Mills afterwards. “But we should be. We care and have worked very hard for years. Plus, ten of these girls are seniors, so it was their last time in a JF uniform.”
Against Cave Spring, Jefferson Forest knew it would have its hands full. The two squads matched up nicely, as seen in an early-season tilt.
The Lady Cavs won that one in five matches, taking the fifth and deciding match by the score of 16-14.
At the onset, everything pointed to a splendid match. The Lady Knights brought a big fan contingent.
The Lady Cavs had their bizarre, if good-hearted, day-glo-clad cheering section in place.
Both teams seemed focused but excited.
Five plays into the evening, all of that would change.
That’s when Jefferson Forest’s superb middle hitter, Jordan Hawkins, collapsed in a heap, grabbing her right foot, in obvious pain.
The gym went eerily silent as Hawkins was tended to by coaches and athletic trainers.
She could only watch the rest of the way, holding an ice bag to her broken foot.
A cruel way for the preps career to end for an outstanding player.
While JF certainly missed Hawkins’ offensive heroics, her absence might have been most dire on the defensive side of things.
There was nobody to step up and block the kill attempts of Cave Spring’s Morgan Shannon, she of the powerful spike.
The Lady Knights seemed to sense that Forest was reeling and peeled off six straight points, including a pair of aces by Lauren Sledd, to make it 15-6 in game one.
The Lady Cavs regrouped for the second game. With excellent serves and superior passing, JF clawed back from a 19-16 deficit.
A statement kill by Brittany McCormick and a quick flick-of-the-wrist kill by setter Erin McIntyre drew the Lady Cav even at 20.
Cave Spring mauled a potential kill out of bounds, and JF’s Lindsey Smith made sure her spike stayed in for the game winner.
Game three was in the balance at 13-apiece until Shannon took control for the Springers.
Keyed by a pair of kills and a block, the Lady Cavs built up a 22-14 lead, before JF knew what hit it.
Shannon whacked an ace to put the cherry on that one.
Game five was much the same, except it was Lauren Sledd who did the early damaging work for Cave Spring.
She posted a pair of aces and a kill in leading the Springers to an 18-9 lead.
From there, it was just a matter of tidying up the win.
-With Hawkins injured, several players were in a position to step up. Mills stated, “Both Hollin Wirt and Madison Saunders did a great job under a tough situation.”
Wirt will assuredly have some bruises to show for her efforts. She hit the floor often, in relentless pursuit.
-A mark of togetherness: The team members who hadn’t played at all were just as upset at the end of this one as the ones who had played throughout.
Obviously, this team wins together and it sticks together in tough times.
-Mills took a long-range view of the loss. “We will learn a greater life lesson from losing thane we probably would have winning a state championship.”
-Mills also tipped his hat concerning his staff, saying, “God has spoiled me.”