It was a regular season volleyball match between Appomattox and Gretna with a wild championship game atmosphere. When Ellie Peterson's blocked shot in set four sealed the 3-1 win for the Raiders, the Appomattox student section - which showed up in full force with vocal cords primed - rushed onto the court in joint celebration with the victors.
The big win (25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 25-23) in the back-and-forth barnburner of a showdown breaks the Raiders' two-game losing streak against Gretna that includes a 2018 defeat in the Dogwood District title game and the recent Sept. 24 loss at Gretna, a game the Hawks swept in three sets.
Appomattox played inspired ball in front of a raucous home crowd, which senior Hayley Carrico said gave the Raiders an extra dose of energy.
Carrico was a defensive stalwart coming off the bench with 7 blocks while contributing a number of key shots offensively in one of the best all-around games of her Raider career.
Appomattox appeared ready to wrap up the night with a 22-19 lead late in set four until the Hawks soared back with three points, threatening to force a fifth and deciding set by tying the game on a Destiny Haley block of Kaydence Gilbert.
The two frontline dominators battled it out the next two plays with Gilbert spiking over Haley for a 23-22 Raider lead and Haley returning the favor with a spike that glanced off Gilbert to even the game at 23-all.
Madison Shirey put Appomattox in prime position at 24-23 with a perfectly aimed shot into Gretna's right front court with no defender near the ball. On the very next play, Peterson leaped up all alone at the net for the winning block.
For Appomattox, Abbey Mann dominated statistically with 16 kills, 7 serve aces and 19 serve points. Leah Caldwell was spot on with 19 defensive digs. Cameron Womack set up the offense like a point guard with 33 assists.
The victory sets Appomattox at 13-2 overall while dropping Gretna to 15-3 as both teams appear to be battling for Dogwood supremacy once again in 2019.
For further game coverage, see the Oct. 23 edition of the Times Virginian.