GATE CITY, Va. - The Gate City Blue Devils wasted no time on Wednesday night, as they needed only an hour to earn a three-set sweep over Richlands Tornado in a 25-14, 25-12, 25-16 victory in the first round of the VHSL Region 2D Tournament.
“It’s the time of year we’ve got to take care of Gate City. That’s what our focus was on,” Gate City head coach Amy Reed said. “Taking care of our side of the court, doing all the little things, making sure we’re being aggressive on serve-receive, moving and moving with the ball to our setter and getting our hitters going.”
In the opening set, the Blue Devils got off to a hot start with an 8-2 scoring run over the Tornado en route to an 11-point victory. Richlands matched Gate City point-for-point to start the second set with a 3-3 tie, but the Blue Devils went on another scoring run — this time a 12-3 run — to give them the momentum as they outscored the Tornado 22-9 to close out the frame. Gate City found themselves out in front once again early in the third set, but Richlands fought back to tie the score at 11-11. The Tornado stayed close to the Blue Devils over the next few rallies, but Gate City eventually pulled away to complete the sweep.
“It was a great game. It’s always hard to see things end on a loss, but Gate City did a lot of things we haven’t seen from teams this season, so it was kind of different and we just couldn’t get in our groove and get going really,” Richlands head coach Abbey Kitts said. “We’ve got eight seniors, so it’s hard to see them finish their volleyball careers, but a few of them are continuing on hopefully. They’re just a good team and they play well, and I wish them the best of luck really.”
Kristen Hedrick led Richlands with eight kills in the loss, while Jaden Stevenson and Mackenzie Osborne tied for second on the team with four kills each. Lauren Earls narrowly missed recording a double-double for the Tornado with 10 assists and nine digs, while Carson Richardson accomplished the feat with 11 assists and 13 digs. Katlynn Baldwin led the team with a match-high 23 digs.
The Blue Devils were led by Kinslee Hammonds, who recorded a match-high 16 kills in the victory. Brylee Holder contributed 9 kills to the winning effort, while Kaley Jenkins finished with a match-high 25 assists.
With Wednesday’s victory, Gate City advances to the Region 2D semifinals on Saturday night where they will travel to Virginia High School to face the Bearcats at 7:15 p.m.
Reed said that her team has to make sure they stay focused on themselves and to not worry about their opponent.
“We’ve got to be ready to play. We’ve got to take care of Gate City and make sure we’re doing our thing,” Reed said. “It’s not about Virginia High, it’s about Gate City. We’ve got to do what Gate City’s good at doing and we’ve got to make sure we do it well.”