Strong serving leads Rebels to 1st round victory

Published 6:01 am Saturday, November 8, 2014


RESERVE — Riverside’s TyJah Greenup served an ace, then another and then another to begin Thursday’s playoff volleyball match against visiting West St. Mary.

“That set the tone,” Riverside coach Chelsey Lucas-Nicholas said.

The Rebels scored the first eight points of the match and never looked back, advancing in the Division IV postseason with a 25-9, 25-8 and 25-15 first round victory.

Riverside, the No. 9 seed in the Division IV bracket, will travel to face No. 8 Episcopal in the regional round.

The Rebels have won four straight matches and five of their last six.

Greenup finished with five kills and seven aces, the latter number only trailing teammate Sydney Joseph, who finished with a match-high 15 aces.

Greenup said the Rebels’ tough serving has been key to the team’s success all season, and things were no different this time around.

“It’s definitely something we work every day on, and something we consider a strength,” Greenup said. “I feel like we’re one of the better serving teams I’ve seen in awhile. We focus on it.”

Lucas-Nicholas echoed that idea.

“We have to be a great serving team and a great defensive team,” Lucas-Nicholas said. “Being as young as we are, and we’re not a tall team, so to have success we have to really be strong in those areas.”

Abby Bourgeois posted 14 assists for Riverside (26-11) while Briley Becker had five kills and three digs.

This one was all Riverside from the beginning.

Hailee Eldridge spiked the ball for the Rebels’ first point, igniting an 8-0 run that also included four Greenup aces and a Joseph kill. West St. Mary got on the board for its first point, but Eldridge fired back with another kill for the Rebels. Another quick 5-0 RA run put things completely out of reach, with Joseph serving a pair of aces and Eldridge earning another kill to make it 15-3. The Rebels never relented from there.

A Becker kill pushed Riverside ahead 10-3 in the second game. West St. Mary traded points with the Rebels for a bit from that point, but with Maddie Duhon at the serving line, RA put together four scores in a row to go ahead 18-6. RA finished the set on a 7-1 run.

It was much of the same in the third set. RA led 19-2 before a brief West St. Mary flurry. But in the end, Eldridge ended the match the same way it began, her spike finding the floor and the Rebels the win.

“We were really mentally focused today,” Greenup said. “We stuck to our gameplan. I thought we could have played a little better, but we did what we needed to do.”

While an official time wasn’t yet set for Riverside’s second round match with Episcopal, Lucas-Nicholas said the match was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

She said the Rebels know a challenge awaits them.

“When they’re on, they’re really on, I know that for sure,” Lucas-Nicholas said.

“They’re similar to a few of the teams we’ve played, with a couple girls who can really hit the ball. But we can stand up to teams like that.”

While Riverside has been to two straight state semifinal games, this year’s Rebel team is very young.

Even so, Lucas-Nicholas doesn’t see a road playoff environment phasing her players.

“It’s a crazy thing in some ways, because you always feel like you’d be most comfortable at home,” Lucas-Nicholas said.

“But this team isn’t wired like that. We seem to play better on the road.”