Unexpected Spark: Albemarle volleyball stays unbeaten in district with win over Western

Photo by Bart Isley

Sometimes, a volleyball team just needs a spark from an unexpected place. Senior libero Bridget Pinnata gave Albemarle that Thursday night against Western Albemarle, kicking off a critical game four after a game three loss with a backline kill.


“Seeing our back row players getting kills and just being so aggressive always helps us amp up the energy,” said Albemarle’s Audrey Sheedy.


That was enough of a spark to lead Albemarle to a 3-1 win over the Warriors to stay unbeaten in Jefferson District play through the first cycle of round-robin action.


Sheedy helped close the door on the Warriors who fought back from a 2-0 deficit to win game three and force a game five. Sheedy stepped up and registered a pair of very different but equally effective kills to end game four with a 25-14 win. The first came in rhythm, while the second required a touch of adjustment.  


“The set was perfect and I could really swing down line which is my go-to spot and I enjoy hitting there,” Sheedy said. “The ending ball of the night wasn’t a ball I would be able to get around on so I took a risk of sending a free ball over but it ended up working.”


Sheedy finished tied for the Albemarle (13-6, 7-0 in JD) lead in kills with 10, matching Adalee Lynch’s monster night of 10 kills that came with a side of six blocks. Lynch was in rhythm early on for the Patriots which is a big reason they built a 2-0 lead with wins of 25-18 and 25-22. It didn’t hurt either that Pinnata had her serve working with three aces on the night.


Western found its stride in game four though with Sierra McCance keying the offense with 38 assists on the night in a balanced attack. McCance distributed the ball evenly among four different front line players with Abigail Johnson leading the way with nine kills while Sarah Rhea had eight and Kaitlin Driver and Isabelle Plummer registered seven each.


“Our team has a lot of fight in them and I think that’s what I love about them,” Radlinksi said. “And it’s all 12 of them, not just the six that are on the court. Coming back and taking game three losing game one and two is a huge feat.”


Picking up a 25-19 win to take a game off the Patriots was a huge step for the Warriors, who are making steady improvement under first-year head coach Julie Radlinksi.


“We talked about it this week that we’re on that upward trajectory that all coaches want to see at this point in the season because we’re about to turn the corner,” Radlinksi said. “We’re on the upswing of that and we’re working on more advanced things, working on our consistency and I’m just really happy with where we are.”


Amelia Nichols had seven digs to lead Western defensively.


The Patriots still managed to pull away though, with Esther Amos finishing with eight kills while Maya Winterhoff had six on the night to round out the offensive effort. Sheedy flashed her all-around ability with 14 digs and a pair of aces while Pinnata had 12 digs on the night. Keira Roach finished with 34 assists at setter.


The Patriots will face Louisa Tuesday night while the Warriors host Powhatan that night.