By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 14 — The Bulldogs of Luray dropped a tough district match at home, 3-1, to the Falcons of Central on Thursday night. Luray put up a tough fight against the No. 1 team in the Bull Run District, and despite the loss, the Bulldogs remain among the top four.
In the first set, Luray rolled off five straight points to take an early 8-3 lead over the Falcons. The Bulldogs maintained that lead most of the way until Central tied the set at 18-18. The rest of the way was a back-and-forth battle that never stretched to more than a two-point margin. Tied at 23-23, Luray recorded the last two points for the 25-23 win, thanks to a kill by senior Gracie Embry and an ace by junior Kate Taglauer.
Central built a 12-4 lead in the second frame that set the tone throughout. The Falcons would lead by as many 11, as they glided to a 25-14 win to tie the match at 1-1.
The third set had been tied seven times when it reached 11-11. However, Central began to break away at that point, maintaining a narrow lead all the way to the end for a 25-21 win.
The fourth and final frame belonged to the visitors as well. Despite a tie at 4-4, the Falcons held the lead the entire way and won by eight, 25-17.
The Bulldogs had trouble all night with one of the best players in the region, Woodstock senior Peyton DiNardo, who dominated the last two sets of Thursday night’s matchup. DiNardo recorded 11 kills and two aces during the match. The Falcons also got strong play from sophomore Hadley Witherow, who had six kills, and senior Bailey Sheetz, who recorded five kills, an ace and a block.
Luray was lead once again by Embry with nine kills and one ace, unofficially. Senior Sumer Forder had a stellar match, recording eight kills and two aces, as well as a few digs from the powerful spikes delivered by DiNardo. Junior Avery Jewell had a strong night as well, with six kills and an ace. Sophomore Reese Fitton added three kills and two aces.
With the win, Woodstock moves to 7-1 overall and remains undefeated in the Bull Run at 4-0. Up next, the Falcons will host Rappahannock on Tuesday and Strasburg next Thursday.
With the loss, Luray drops to 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the district, with a firm hold on fourth place. Up next, the Bulldogs host East Rockingham on Monday, before traveling to Mt. View on Tuesday and Page County on Thursday.
Outside of Central, there appears to be a lot of parity within the region among the next four teams. The Falcons have three or four key players that will make them tough to beat, and an odds-on favorite to be playing in the Region B title game. However, Madison, Luray, Clarke and Rappahannock have competitive squads, which could make things interesting down the stretch.
The Bulldogs have proven they will be a tough out for any team in the region. Luray is fully capable of reaching their goal of playing in that region title game, and thus earning a spot in the state tournament.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.