Western Albemarle volleyball team tops Albemarle to remain undefeated in district | Sport

For the past five years, the road to the Jefferson County volleyball championship has been through Albemarle County.

Western Albemarle appears poised to continue that trend this season after beating Albemarle on the road Tuesday 25-17, 25-23, 25-21.

“I think we just knew we had to come out with a lot of energy,” forward Julianne Murphy said. “Playing our city rivals we knew we had to link up really well and I think we did that. We have evolved well. We had good turnovers and our shots found the floor and worked really well tonight.”

Sophia Byrd had a game-high 12 kills to go along with two blocks and nine digs as Western Albemarle (11-4, 3-0 Jefferson County) remained undefeated in district play.

Beard, along with veterans Natalie Rocca and Murphy, dominated the net all night and came up with big plays when needed. Rocco finished with 10 kills and five blocks in the game for the Warriors. She also dropped three service aces.

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It was a back-and-forth match early in the first set before Western Albemarle’s veterans made their presence felt. Rocco sparked an 11-point run, including two kills and a block from Bird, to help the Warriors extend their lead to 19-9.

Murphy also had a strong showing in the first set with five kills, while Rocco chipped in a double block attempt to give Western the first set, 25-17.

The second set was just as competitive as both teams took turns sharing the lead. Vining Ding tallied three kills to give Albemarle (4-5, 1-1) a 16-15 advantage.

Western Albemarle came back to tie the game at 23-23 before Rocca ripped a shot through a double block attempt to give her team a 24-23 lead. After a timeout, Murphy hit a layup from the block to give the Warriors the set, 25-23, and a 2-0 lead.

As for Murphy, who played mostly as a center forward last season, she is enjoying her new role in the team this season. She finished the night with 10 kills.

“I think I connected really well with my setter and I was just finding the right tempo and being able to find the floor,” Murphy said.

The Patriots came out on top again in the third set as Ding tallied four kills and Grace Sembrovich added a pair of service points to give AHS a 13-9 lead.

The advantage would be short-lived. Kinsley Campbell tallied four straight points for Western, sparked by a pair of Rock spikes, to tie the game at 13-13.

Libero Amelia Tomlinson was a steady force on the back line as Western Albemarle continued to rack up points and capitalize on opportunities at the net. The senior made 12 shots and added six assists in the win.

“I think you have to be aggressive with every ball,” Tomlinson said. “Everybody just talks a lot so everybody knows who’s going to get it, and I think we’re always picking each other up.”

Another burst from Murphy gave Western Albemarle a 24-20 lead. Ding forced Albemarle into a side out with another kill, but it wasn’t enough as Rocco put the exclamation mark on the win with a spike from her middle hitter position.

Cecilia Smith paced Albemarle with 17 assists and 10 digs. Ding tallied nine kills and Sembrovich had 10 digs.

Pleased with the victory, the Warriors understand that they still have a lot of work ahead of them.

“It’s great,” Murphy said. “We look forward to our next match and stay tuned.”

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