The Lord Botetourt girls continued their domination of Class 3 volleyball in the state with a third straight Virginia High School League championship Saturday. Botetourt beat Tabb High in three sets to complete the “3-Peat” at the Salem Civic Center.
“Dominating” is the word for the LB girls. In their three championship years they have a record of 94-1 and this year the Cavaliers didn’t even lose a set, playing 31 matches and winning all 188 sets. That included 26 3-0 wins and five 2-0 games at the Tournament of Champions at Patrick Henry High School.
That almost didn’t come to pass Saturday, as Tabb gave the Cavaliers their closest set of the season. After LB won the first two handily, 25-13 and 25-14, the Tigers from Yorktown jumped out to a quick lead in the third and led for most of the set. Botetourt pulled even at 17-17 and it was nip-and-tuck down the stretch. The Cavaliers held off one “set point” by Tabb and finally put the cats away when Taylor Robertson nailed a spike to put the final nail in the coffin, 27-25.
“Most of us didn’t even realize it until a week or so ago,” said LB senior Miette Veldman about the streak. “It wouldn’t have been heartbreaking as long as we won the match.”
Botetourt hadn’t lost a set since Hidden Valley took the Cavaliers to five sets in the 2018 state semifinal. Since then the Cavaliers have won 92 straight and they’ll take that streak into 2020 along with their 56 match winning streak.
“This has been a very special run,” said LB coach Julie Conner, who won her third straight championship just hours after her sister, Sherry Millirons, coached Auburn to the Class 1 championship over Riverheads. “These girls have been with me for quite a while. It’s been fun to see them grow and mature.”
Botetourt had two four-year varsity seniors on the team, outside hitter Miette Veldman and libero Kenleigh Gunter. Senior Jordyn Kepler, a three-year starter and captain, leaves LB with the school career record for assists. Veldman will likely be the state Player of the Year once again when that award is announced. She’s already the Blue Ridge District and Region 3D Player of the Year and no one would argue she’s the best volleyball player in LB history as she prepares to continue her career at James Madison University.
“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” said Veldman, who planned to begin basketball practice on Monday. “The first two years were fun because I got to play with my sister(Lara). We lost some girls last year but we had high hopes for this season.”
Botetourt benefited from senior Taylor Robertson, a UNC-Greensboro signee who transferred in from Cave Spring. Taylor played with Miette in travel ball and added a second big hitter on the front row.
“She came in and fit right in,” said Conner. “Miette and Taylor were usually matched opposite each other in practice and that helped them both.”
Veldman had 19 kills in the championship game while Robertson had 10. Senior middle Ryanna Clark and junior Annelise Wolfe had seven each. Gunter led with 14 digs while Veldman had nine.
Kepler, Botetourt’s steady setter, dished out 41 more points in the championship match. Her career record is especially impressive in that LB won so many matches in three sets, giving her fewer opportunities for assists.
“It’s been really exciting,” she said. “The first one(championship) was the most exciting, but they’ve all been great.”
The girls had a stretch limousine waiting for them outside the civic center following the win. It whisked them away to the cheers of the large delegation from Botetourt County, and with seven seniors you couldn’t help but wonder if this was the end of the run.
Of course, fans wondered the same thing last year and 31 wins later the Cavaliers are on top again.