By Garth Shanklin
The Williamsburg Lady Wildcats’ volleyball team made the trip to Clayton Northmont High School on Oct. 29 looking to bring home a district trophy to go neatly with their sectional championship and Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference National Division title.
Unfortunately, the team couldn’t overcome a poor end to the first set or a close loss in the second, falling to the Anna Lay Rockets 3-0 to end their season at 24-2.
Anna jumped ahead 6-1 in the first set before the Lady Wildcats clawed their way back into it, tying the set at eight and at one point holding an 11-9 lead.
However, the Lady Rockets would score 11 of the next 14 points and win the set 25-15. Williamsburg head coach Ed Stewart said the team was pumped up to start the game, which may have contributed to the loss.
“I think we came in so excited that we didn’t play our best,” Stewart said. “It’s as simple as that. They were ahead of us 18-12, so it wasn’t even very close the whole game. It was disappointing. Their hitters were good but I didn’t think they were any better than ours. We didn’t pass well, and when we don’t pass well, we can’t hit.”
The second set was much closer. Anna again jumped ahead, holding an 8-3 lead early, but the Lady Wildcats fought back and eventually tied the set at 21. The teams traded points, with Williamsburg tying the set at 23 after a timeout. The Lady Rockets scored the final two points to win the set 25-23 to take a 2-0 lead.
Stewart said that if the Lady Wildcats had pulled out the win, the third set may have gone a different direction.
“We had the serve at 23-23 and we missed that serve, and it just kind of shot us in the foot there,” Stewart said. “If we had won that second game, maybe that third game would’ve been close. It wasn’t for lack of effort, my kids tried as hard as they could.”
The effort was clear in the third set, which Williamsburg led at one point 9-5. The teams were tied at seven different points in the set, the last of which was a 17-17 score. Anna would go on an 8-2 run to win the final set 25-19 and the match 3-0.
Stewart said the Lady Wildcats will learn from this experience and use it to help the team’s returning players make a similar run next season.
“They have so much tradition up there at Anna,” Stewart said. “They play in the toughest Division III league in the state. It was a good experience. We have five underclassmen, so we’re going to go back up there and try again.”
Stewart told the players after the game how thankful he was to be their head coach.
“I thanked them for the opportunity to coach such wonderful kids,” Stewart said. “One of the best coaching opportunities in my life and I’m thankful. They were great kids, they tried hard. That’s the kind of kids I had, dedicated, caring for their teammates.”
Stewart was also thankful for the crowd, as dozens of supporters lined the hallway outside the Lady Wildcats’ locker room and applauded the team when they exited.
“The crowd was unbelievable after the game,” Stewart said. “They treated the kids just like they won. It was neat. I’m sorry we didn’t win, it’s bad when we don’t play our best. It’s been a great season for me personally, and I wish for the kids and for me that we could’ve won. That just happens sometimes.”
Stewart added he wouldn’t forget the group of players he had on the court this season.
“This was a true team, I’ll never forget how blessed I am to coach them,” Stewart said.