Powhatan takes five set battle against Fluvanna

Powhatan’s volleyball team was already coming into its Jefferson District slate with a head of steam and factored with its previous reputation as a Southside District giant, all mystique was validated last week when the Indians swept Monticello. On Tueday, the newest member of the JD got a serious fight from a perennial Region II qualifier in Fluvanna County that validated Powhatan is to be taken seriously, and once again so are the Flyin’ Flucos. It took five sets and momentum swung pendulously as the Indians picked up a hard earned 3-2 win over hosting Fluvanna, 25-27, 25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 15-9.

“This is a difficult gym to win in,” said Powhatan coach Clark Menger. “The soundtrack was great, the crowd was phenomenal and they’re extremely scrappy. That made it hard with the unforced errors we had. We are happy to get in here and get out with a win.”

The Flucos made it tough on the Indians right out of the gate as the first game was the most contested set of the night with neither squad leading by more than three points at any time. Late in the game, Powhatan was able to get up 23-20 to put itself in position to get off on the right foot, but behind Hannah Miller, Fluvanna raced right back to swipe a win as they took seven of the last nine points.

“We came out really strong,” Miller said. “I think everyone was really excited to play Powhatan since they’re a new team in the district — we wanted to show them what Fluvanna volleyball was all about.”

Game two was the most lopsided of all five sets as the Indians rebounded to take a 6-point lead at 10-4 and then get up by the largest margin of the night at 19-10. From there the Flucos went point-for-point with the visiting team, but ultimately fell short of making a comeback and evening the game 1-1.

“It was an adrenaline rush tonight,” said Indians senior hitter Janey Goodman. “You’re just constantly running around in a match like this. You’ve got to block, you’ve got to kill, you’ve got constantly try as hard as you can. I mean after this match, I am tired, I am dead.”

In a pivotal third set, Powhatan established an early 6-point advantage to force a Fluvanna timeout, but a 7-3 rally put the Flucos right back in the game to force an Indians timeout with their lead down to two. Powhatan shouldered the load out of that timeout and kept Fluvanna at a 3-point distance until the very end when Miller and company surged from down 24-20 to make it 24-23.  But Powhatan did not falter as it finally made good on game-point on its fourth try to take the 2-1 lead.

Game four closely resembled the first with neither team being able to put together a string of points thanks to the feistiness from the other side. Tied at 22-22 the Flucos came through with three of the next four points to even the match up and force a fifth and final set.

“I was thrilled with how we played,” said Fluvanna coach Christi Harlowe-Garrett. “We had moments where we didn’t lose our focus be we lost our intensity and that hurt us. You can’t play a team that is that strong and have those moments of ‘let’s hang out and play volleyball — oh, okay let’s get back in it’ and be successful. They’re going to come at you and be strong. We’ve got to reduce those moments.”

The last go around was even to start with the two squads playing to 5-5 but Powhatan rallied to a five-point lead out of the tie and would not let Fluvanna get within two points of its lead before finishing strong with a 5-1 run to escape with a win.

“We finally felt that (winning) feeling in the fifth game,” Goodman said. “We had it second and third game, but the fourth was just kind of ‘meh’.  In that fifth game we got the first momentum swing and that last one and crushed it.”

For the Indians, Goodman led a diverse offense with 12 kills while Sierra Strathy contributed 11 of her own to go with her 15 digs and two aces. Setter Krystal Marhsall had 41 assists and 10 digs. Kayla Tugan had 17 digs and two aces.

Miller paced Fluvanna with 16 kills on the night. Taylor Beck had eight kills as well.

Powhatan (9-2, 2-0) hosts Louisa County on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Fluvanna (11-4, 1-1) heads Charlottesville on the same date and time.