Level Up: Western volleyball wins program’s first region title

Photo by Kristi Ellis

Western Albemarle volleyball trailed E.C. Glass by six points in game four and sure allowing the match to get back to even wouldn’t have been ideal for the Warriors, but they were up 2-1 already and it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. 


Western flipped a switch though and made sure they finished off the program’s first region title right there in game four, capping a 3-1 victory over the Hilltoppers in the Region 4D championship. 


“We stayed disciplined on defense and our energy was great,” said Western’s Sofia Beard. “It’s amazing and so exciting — now we get to have states here. I just love it, I love this team.”


The Warriors turned an 18-12 deficit in game four into a 25-23 win with a Beard kill turning things around and Natalie Rocco’s kill on the final point finishing the match off. 


The Warriors, owners of numerous Jefferson District titles, in turn won their first ever region championship and will get a chance to host a state tournament game for the first time in program history Saturday at 4 p.m. against Dominion. 


“This is just a special night, they came in every day to work and I think they wanted to focus in tonight and they got the job done,” said head coach Julie Radlinksi. “I couldn’t be prouder.”


Rocco finished with a team-high 16 kills while Beard notched 14 and Juliana Murphy had six to create a potent front line that made things tough on the Hilltoppers all night. Meanwhile, Tomlinson and Sequoyah Sorenson notched 11 and 13 digs respectively, coming up big in key moments to keep the ball alive. Long rallies didn’t always got the Warriors’ way but it helped that Glass had to fight and claw for seemingly every single point. 


“I just focus on reading the ball and sometimes I don’t even know I got it up,” Tomlinson said. “But I just focus on reading the hitters.”


Western stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the match, winning the first two games 25-23 and 25-23 with that balanced front line leading the way while Sorenson rang up 22 assists. The Warriors also got some solid serving to build that lead with Ellie Kuzjak, Sorenson and Rocco each ringing up two aces. 


The Warriors struggled in game three though and fell into a 20-16 whole late that proved too much to climb out of. That set the stage for game four and a slow start forced that late rally that helped clinch the match. 


“It’s awesome and last year losing the region (championship) I feel like got us fired up to win,” Tomlinson said. “It was fun.”


Western will try and keep the fun going this weekend when they face Dominion in the Class 4 state quarterfinals Saturday. Glass will hit the road to face James Wood in the state quarters.