BRISTOL, Va. - The human nature of volleyball players occasionally getting a bit too comfortable is often a concern for a high school coach, but so far nobody has been able to come up with a remedy.
Still, with Camden Jones and a group of solid veterans on hand, Virginia High mentor Ashley Johnson and her Bearcats are usually in pretty good shape.
Virginia High was up and down Wednesday in quarterfinal play of the Region D tournament at the Bearcat Den, but nonetheless rolled to a 25-21, 25-18, 25-10 victory over youthful Wise Country Central.
The win moves Virginia High (25-5), the top seed out of the Southwest District, into Saturday night’s 7:15 p.m. home-floor semifinal against old rival Gate City. The survivor of that match will qualify for the upcoming Class 2 state tournament.
After laboring through parts of the first two sets last night, Johnson knows her club must be more consistent to make any post-season noise from this point.
VHS did blitz the Warriors to claim the third set, but early on the ‘Cats were up and down, first getting pushed to the limit in the initial set after leading 15-3 and 19-6, then later having to break from an 8-8 deadlock to take the second set.
“After starting off strong we kind of sat back a bit and got too comfortable in that first set, which we work on, work on, work on,” Johnson said. “The second set was kind of a recovery time for us, and by the third set we brought it back around and showed back up to play.”
Johnson knows that Jones is usually there to make a play when needed.
A 5-foot-10 junior outside hitter, Jones was all over the floor against Wise, finishing with 13 kills and 16 digs.
Seniors Caitlin Hampton (11 kills) and Hannah Knight (38 assists) backed Johnson’s superstar nicely, but it is Jones who propels the Bearcats.
“Camden is the all-around player,” said Johnson, who received 14 digs from junior Bre Owens. “She’s the real deal.
“On defense she’s getting to balls that most people couldn’t even think about getting a hand on, and offensively she’s an explosive player at the net who can really throw down some powerful shots.”
While the Bearcats have visions of a state tournament berth, Wise Central (11-13) will go to work trying to narrow the gap between itself and others from the traditionally powerful Mountain 7 District.
“I think we knew how good Virginia High was, and I think we were intimidated a bit to start with and we dug ourselves a huge hole,” said second-year Warrior coach Jessica Sturgill. “But I’m proud of the progress we made this season, our second straight in the regionals. We learned a lot.
“We don’t have any seniors, so hopefully we’ll work hard over the off season and get back here again, and maybe go a little farther.”
Wise Central was led offensively Gabby Hall’s nine kills and Caitlin Glover’s 20 assists. Defensively, Hannah McAmis produced 14 digs for the Warriors.