War Eagle volleyball season ends in third round

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

Davie’s volleyball team met a mountain too high in the third round of the 4-A playoffs, losing at Ardrey Kell, but the War Eagles will look back on 2021 and remember it forever.
After winning a share of the Central Piedmont Conference, they matched the deepest playoff run in program history and finished 22-5, one win from the single-season record.
In the second round on Oct. 26, Davie rallied for a 3-1 win over visiting South Iredell, a team that defeated Davie in August. Davie was the No. 8 seed in the West Region; South was seeded ninth.
The scores were 17-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-14.
After racing to an 8-4 lead in the first set, Davie watched the Vikings reel off 13 of 14 points.
“We started really slow,” coach Amber Brandon said. “I was super frustrated. I was definitely worried at the end of the first set.”
Davie’s slow start carried over to the second set. It trailed 15-9 before righting the ship and closing on a 16-6 run. It would never look back.
“I called a timeout and basically said: ‘I don’t know what you’re waiting on. If we don’t wake up, this is it,’” Brandon said. “When we came out of that timeout, Aimee Loj had good swings. I saw leadership from her. Her motivation and fire jumped over to Ali Angell. We made a lineup switch to let Ali play six rotations. Her being able to score like she did tonight off the back row opened up the offense so much.”
Davie’s remarkable chemistry was on display as it outscored South 54-32 during a stretch from the second half of the second set through part of the fourth set, when Davie roared to a 13-5 advantage.
“We ask Emily Garner to be almost perfect in serve-receive, and she had some real big swings at crucial times,” Brandon said. “Peyton Justice had a lot of balls come her way (on back row), and she had a really good night. Kimball Little had big digs at crucial times. We live off defense. We can pick up a ball that the majority of teams can’t.”
Davie got revenge for a 3-2 loss on Aug. 28, when South overcame a two-set-to-none deficit.
Two days later, Davie traveled to juggernaut Ardrey Kell, the top seed in the West. The Knights ended a special season for the War Eagles, who lost in four sets. The scores were 15-25, 25-23, 19-25, 23-25.
That Davie took a set and was close to winning two others means it played superbly. The Knights (29-1) had rampaged through virtually all of their opponents. They have 21 wins in three sets, three wins in two sets, four wins in four sets and one win in five sets. Their only loss was 3-1 to D.H. Conley, which is 24-2.
After losing the first set, Davie got even in the second. In the third, it was 10-10 after a Loj block. A 3-0 surge gave Davie a 17-16 lead. Kell used a 7-0 burst to take a 23-17 lead.
In the fourth set, Davie had leads of 15-11, 17-14 and 20-19. (There were scintillating rallies the entire match.) It was 22-22 before Kell grabbed the set and the match.
Brandon piloted the War Eagles to the final 16 for the third time in five years. How about this: They reached 22 victories for the third time ever. Brandon has coached all three squads, including 23-5 in 2017 and 22-3 in 2018.