Gritty Raiders fall to Radford in region semifinal

With their 2019 season on the line in the Region 2C Semifinal, the Appomattox Raiders volleyball team displayed a show of true grit in the third set against the Radford Bobcats. 

Down 15-8 and two sets to none, Appomattox waged a resurgent comeback, narrowing the gap to one point at 17-16 when a shot by Radford's Caroline Wheeler sailed out of bounds. 

However, on the next possession Radford went up by two points on an Appomattox kill shot attempt by Kaydence Gilbert that was ruled a turnover against the Raiders. 

Despite several athletic, clutch defensive saves by senior Lexi Fulcher, and a fighting Raider spirit, Radford would not surrender and went on to claim a three-set sweep (28-30, 15-25, 21-25). The neutral site game took place at Brookville High School in Lynchburg. 

Appomattox surged out to a 21-14 lead in set one and seemingly had momentum going in their favor. But as is the nature of sports, momentum changes hands quickly and sometimes without explanation.

The Bobcats roared back to win the set in a thrilling overtime session which saw four ties on the scoreboard before an Appomattox shot hit the net to give Radford the opener. 

Largely on the backs of Kara Armentrout (12 kill shots), Laney Cline (9 kills) and Charli Dietz (8 kills), plus a tough defensive unit that became hard to penetrate, Radford carried that momentum into sets two and three. Only midway through set three did they show any sign of retreat. 

The Raiders fell one game short of their quest to advance to the VHSL Class 2 State Tournament, but completed a stellar season at 19-3.

Gilbert, who dominated set one, recorded 10 kills for Appomattox. Abbey Mann was second with 8 kills. 

Four seniors (Leah Caldwell, Hayley Carrico, Lexi Fulcher and Skylar Sams) played their last volleyball game in a Raider uniform, but they will be involved with other Appomattox County High School athletic teams before they graduate in 2020. 

Radford moves on the play the winner of the Giles vs. Floyd matchup in the Region 2C Final next Tuesday. 

For the rest of the story, including two player interviews, see the Nov. 13 edition of the Times Virginian.