It takes Lady Cavaliers 5 sets to put away River; both ready for district playoffs

Lillian Clevenger of James River sets one up against Lord Botetourt Monday.
Photo by Jim Devinney
Jordyn Kepler (10) and Brooklyn Shelton (13) of LB go high to contest a spike by River’s Michaela Tolley.
Photo by Jim Devinney

Lord Botetourt played some top-notch volleyball teams in the Tournament of Champions at Patrick Henry High last weekend, but the toughest match the Cavs had was Monday against James River. LB needed five sets to put the Knights away after sweeping five opponents in straight sets at PH.

“It was a great match,” said LB coach Julie Conner after Monday’s marathon in Daleville. “They’re as good as anyone we’ve played.”

Coming into the match LB was 21-0 and had won 58 of 60 sets played. After winning the first set against River, 25-20, the Knights bounced back to win the next two, 26-24 and 25-22. In danger of losing for the first time all season, LB rallied to win the fourth set, 25-21, to tie the match. Then the Cavs put it away with a 15-7 score in the fifth and deciding set to 15.

The match was about as even as possible. Both teams finished with 48 total kills as Miette Veldman led LB with 24 and Linsey Bailey had 23 for the Knights. Botetourt had a dozen aces and River served up nine.

Veldman also had 23 digs and sister Lara Veldman had 15 kills, 19 digs and three aces for LB. Kenleigh Gunter had 16 digs and Jordyn Kepler had 40 assists.

For River, Bailey Marshall and Michaela Tolley had 11 kills each. Lillian Clevenger had 24 assists.

The loss dropped River to 15-3 overall. The Knights had a 10-game winning streak broken last Thursday when they fell at Giles in somewhat of an upset. The host Spartans won the Three Rivers District showdown in another five-setter, 25-22, 24-26, 25-21, 21-25 and 15-12.

Botetourt is now 22-0. Last weekend at PH the Cavaliers played in the always-tough Tournament of Champions, which had previously been held at the Spectrum off Peters Creek Road. Botetourt swept five best-of-three matches.

On Friday night the Cavs opened with a 25-14, 25-19 win over Cave Spring, then took a 25-15, 25-21 win over Middleburg Academy. On Saturday LB beat Loudoun County 25-23, 25-22, host PH 25-14, 25-13 and 2016 state champion Hidden Valley, 25-22, 25-18.

“Loudoun County gave us a really good match,” said Conner. “There was a lot of back and forth. We were down in one of the sets and had to fight back.”

Botetourt is getting some tough competition with the tournament season beginning next week. LB will play in the Blue Ridge District tournament and James River is in the Three Rivers tournament next week.

“One thing I really like about the tournament of champions is the timing of it,” said Conner. “We see some really good competition right before the post-season.”

The Cavaliers will be at Northside Thursday to end the regular season. River was at Alleghany for a Three Rivers game Tuesday and will wrap up the regular season Thursday at Radford.

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