by Bill Turner
Cave Spring and Hidden Valley will meet for the fourth time this season Thursday night when the River Ridge volleyball powers square off for the district tournament championship at Cave Spring.
Both teams won in easy fashion Tuesday night with the Knights defeating Salem and Hidden Valley knocking off Blacksburg. Both matches were 3-game sweeps.
Cave Spring won the semifinal opener over the Spartans 25-11; 25-14; 25-12. The Knights’ power game overwhelmed Salem all evening with all-state hitter Morgan Shannon firing 11 kills past the Salem defense and Shannon Craighead adding four.
Craighead set the table all night for Cave Spring, tallying 37 assists along the front line that paved the way for point-after-point. Libero Lauren Sledd served up 7 aces to further frustrate the Salem defense.
Although Salem’s Carleigh Studtmann connected on six kills for the Spartans, Cave Spring’s back line typically kept their offense in motion as Sledd and Shannon combined for 24 digs.
In the nightcap, Hidden Valley took down a Blacksburg team they had gone 2-1 against this season, 25-12; 25-13; 25-18.Sarah Patterson had 22 assists along the front line for the Titans. That set the tone as Caroline Boone fired 9 kills past the Bruin defense and Lauren Thomas connected on 6. Libero Allison Burton pulled 9 acrobatic digs off the hardwood for Hidden Valley.
Both Cave Spring and Hidden Valley are assured of spots in next week’s regional tournament, while Salem and Blacksburg will play at 5:00 Thursday for the third, and final, spot.
Cave Spring is now 11-0 in River Ridge matches this season, and has yet to lose a single game in any match. Hidden Valley, which lost to the Knights in two regular season matches and a preseason tournament, will look to reverse the trend when the teams square off Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at Cave Spring.