Local volley ballers wrap up season with trips to Regionals

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By Mike Forster

Both the Liberty and the Jefferson Forest volleyball programs proved that they are on the upswing, as each advanced to Regional play last week. The advancement comes as the two squads nabbed the number 3 and 4 slots in the Seminole District Tournament that was hosted by Liberty.

Both teams were resilient, bouncing back from an opening game loss to sweep the next three games for the win. Liberty dispatched Heritage, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-23. Forest took care of Amherst, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20, 25-11.

As the top four teams from the District advanced to the Region, the Minettes and Lady Cavs punched their tickets with the victories.

Liberty Head Coach Lori Mattson, who consistently stresses the concepts of team and joint effort, stated, ?We?re getting used to this level of play?what it takes to get the win and play consistently. This is a big step forward for us.?

The same could be said for Jefferson Forest. Last season, the two teams were the bottom dwellers of the Seminole. This year, they have fought their way to respectability.

While Liberty?s Libby Tomlin was a dominant force for the Minettes, Forest?s Coach Steve Mills pointed to one of his senior leaders. ?Whitney Bonheim played a great game, the best of the year,? said the coach.

In addition to Bonheim?s inspired play in the Amherst win, Mills has to be pleased with the performances of his younger set. Freshmen Megan Prothero, Lindsey Smith and Jordan Hawkins all had tremendous growth over the season. The future bodes well for Forest, given that only Bonheim and Kate Friar will be lost to graduation. While those two players have been key to this year?s success, having Tori Blanks, Brooke Hutchison and Kaitlin Sanderson, among others, coming back next year should have Seminole rivals concerned.

Nonetheless, the Lady Cavs and Minettes also showed that they have a ways to go before they should be considered part of the ranks of the elite District teams. In District semifinal action, Brookville pounded Jefferson Forest while Rustburg hung on to top the Minettes. With the losses, the two local squads had to settle for the consolation round, which was won by Liberty.

Staunton River, meanwhile, saw its season come to an abrupt end at the hands of Seminole power Rustburg. The Red Devils swept the Eagles 25-18, 25-17, 25-15.

Moving on to Regional play, both the Minettes and the Lady Cavs took it on the chin. Liberty made the long journey to Turner Ashby but was sent packing. The Minettes rang up a win in the first game, 25-20. However, their hosts turned things around to sweep the next three games.

Forest fared no better in its journey to Lord Botetourt. The host Lady Lords (actually, Cavs) topped the Lady Cavs in straight games.

With the defeats, volleyball season comes to a close for our local teams.