Hidden Valley has once again advanced to the state volleyball tournament.
The Titans secured their spot in the VHSL Class 3 State Volleyball Tournament Thursday night in the Titan gym with a convincing 25-14; 25-21; 25-14 Region 3D semifinal sweep of the Lord Botetourt Cavaliers. Hidden Valley will face the Tunstall-Carroll County semifinal winner for the Region 3D championship, with the winner getting a home match in the state quarterfinal round and the loser having to go on the road for their state opener.
Both teams had reached the semifinal round on Tuesday, where the Titans pummeled visiting Abingdon 3-0, allowing the Falcons only 29 points in three sets. Meanwhile, Botetourt took five sets to eliminate Christiansburg 3-2 in Daleville.
Botetourt, a perennial volleyball big dog in the Blue Ridge District under talented head coach Julie Connor, rode a 18-3 record into Southwest Roanoke County, looking for the upset win over the 26-0 Titans. Hidden Valley had all the answers to sidestep any designs of a stunner.
Volleyball can be dominated by kills and assists, which the Titans had plenty going their way, but it was the prowess of the Titan service game that had the Botetourt receiving side in disarray the entire night. Precise serves by Hidden Valley gave the Cavs fits to bring the ball off the hardwood, making assists and sets to their front line very difficult.
The opening set gave the large crowd on hand a hint of what was coming. The Titans jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead before the Cavs, sparked by junior Emma Rice’s strength at the net, tied things at 8. Hidden Valley kicked things into high gear and followed with a 9-0 run to lead 17-8. Although Botetourt closed to 17-12, the Titans put the pedal down with a final 8-2 blitz, including the final three scores by Titan sophomore Caleigh Ponn, to win 25-14.
Hidden Valley started the second set with a 4-1 lead, but Botetourt enjoyed its best run of the night by eventually knotting things at 10 and going on an 8-3 run to lead by five, 18-13. Titan head coach Carla Ponn used a timeout to right the ship, and Hidden Valley responded with seven straight scores to go up 20-18, and finished on a 5-3 run to close the deal at 25-21.
The Cavs opened the third set with a 4-1 run, but Hidden Valley kept charging. The Titans tied the score at 4, then rolled out to double-up Botetourt 18-9. In total control, the Titans eventually led by 11, 24-13. After a Cav point, Caleigh Ponn splintered the Botetourt defense with the last of her 27 kills on the night for match point.
In addition to Caleigh Ponn’s 27, sophomore Sophie Arnold and the Titans’ only senior, Abby Crosser, added 5 and 4 kills, respectfully. Junior Lauren Whitaker had 5 aces with Arnold adding 4 aces from the service line. Ponn and sophomore Calli Anderson brought up 10 digs each, while Anderson set the table all night for Hidden Valley’s front line with 32 assists. Botetourt’s stats were not available by press time.