Mistakes doomed Dan River in the first two sets, and Nelson prevailed in a back-and-forth third set to capture a 3-0 victory in the first round of the Region 2C tournament Tuesday in Lovingston.
The Governors (8-3) cruised in a 25-10 win in the first set, used a late run in the second set for a 25-20 margin, then capped the match with a 26-24 victory.
Dan River (3-9) put together the most realistic threat in the final set, in which neither team led by more than three points. The set featured 13 ties.
“I think we played very well in the beginning, and then just got a little bit on the complacent side,” Nelson coach Vicki Crawford said.
After the 10th-seeded Wildcats went up 22-20 on an ace, forcing Crawford to call timeout, the Governors responded with a 3-0 run. A kill from Dan River and attacking error for Nelson swung the advantage back in the Wildcats’ favor, 24-23, and gave them game point.
But two offensive mistakes —issues that proved pervasive for the Dan River all night — and a kill from Rylee Truslow finished off the win for seventh-seeded NCHS.
“We brought our energy up a lot,” Nelson senior Hailea White said when asked what her team did to pull off the win in the tight third match. “Our passing was a little bit iffy, but I think with our hitting and attacking, it brought us back into the game.”
Errors on Dan River’s side proved detrimental in the second set, too. Nelson used a 6-0 run, which included three Wildcats mistakes, to take a lead it never relinquished in the set.
In the night’s opening set, Nelson needed only to avoid committing its own costly errors, with easy points going up on the “home” side of the scoreboard courtesy of a litany of net violations, bad passes and bad attack attempts. After a 2-2 tie, Nelson pulled ahead 5-3, then went on a 12-3 run to put the set away early.
Crawford credited her seniors pulling off the sweep and gaining momentum for their game Wednesday (a time has not yet been announced) against No. 2 seed Patrick County. The Cougars had a bye in Tuesday’s first round and enter the quarterfinals as the No. 2 seed with an 8-2 record.
White, a senior, led Nelson with nine kills to go with two blocks and seven digs. Fellow seniors Abbey Foley (22 assists, 6 digs) and Lauren Armstrong (3 aces, 3 kills, 2 blocks, 8 digs) also had strong showings. Rachel Thompson had a team-high 15 digs, and Destiny Meredith tallied seven kills.