By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Oct. 6 — The first set of Thursday’s volleyball match between Luray and Madison set the tone for the evening…and it was going to be a lot different than the 3-0 loss Luray suffered at Madison on Sept. 12.
In the opening battle to 25 on Thursday night, the lead changed a dozen times and was all even at least 10 times. Throughout the four sets it took the Bulldogs to win the Bull Run District match, it would be much of the same.
Senior Jaidyn McClung had another stellar night with a total of 26 kills, as well as a trio of blocks and an ace. At one point in the third set, McClung recorded four consecutive spikes for Luray. The Dawgs would lose that set — their only one of the night — but then rally behind senior Lyndsay Bly in the decisive fourth set. Bly recorded six of her 13 kills on the night in that fourth set to help secure the win.
In the first set, there was never more than a three-point difference the whole way. The last tie came at 16-16 in the midst of a four-point run by Luray. The Bulldogs pulled ahead and stayed just in front of Madison the rest of the way to win 25-22.
After jumping out to an 11-5 lead in the second set, Luray allowed the Mountaineers to get back in contention with an 8-0 run. However, the Bulldogs would outscore the visitors 14-4 for the remainder of the set to win 25-17, and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Mountaineers found some momentum in the third set, but it wasn’t easy. The back-and-forth battle continued as the score knotted up nine times, including four ties in the battle for the last five points. Luray took a 24-23 lead, but was unable to get the final point. Madison won three consecutive points and took the third set 26-24.
In the fourth and final set, Luray jumped to an 8-2 lead and never relinquished that lead. Madison never let their deficit exceed six points, and actually pulled to within two late at 24-22. Luray then closed out a 25-22 win to claim the match.
Madison saw strong play from senior Whitlee Swink and junior Ava Jenkins who combined for a dozen kills on the night (six each). Jenkins added a couple of blocks and an ace, while Swink served up two aces.
In addition to McClung and Bly, Luray saw strong play at the net from sophomore Avery Jewell, who recorded three kills, and Claudia Cave, who had a kill and an ace. However, the true unsung hero of the Bulldogs’ squad is sophomore Caydence Cave, who is among the region’s leaders in assists. Along with Cave, junior Hazel Parlett contributed assists and digs as well.
With the loss, Madison falls to 8-4 in the Bull Run and 9-6 overall. Next up, the Mountaineers will host the Generals of Mountain View in another district matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
With the win, Luray improves to 9-6 overall and 6-6 in the Bull Run. Next up, the Bulldosg will host district-leading East Rock (13-5 overall, 10-1 Bull Run) at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.