DALEVILLE — The Fort Defiance volleyball team’s journey to the Class 3 state quarterfinals was rough.
To start, the bus to Lord Botetourt broke down in Staunton.
After the team was scooped up by the fan bus, the road didn’t get any easier for the Indians when they arrived at their destination.
The two-time defending champion Cavaliers (54 straight wins) swept the Indians 25-13, 25-13, 25-11, in pursuit of a third straight state championship. So dominant were the Cavaliers, that they didn’t lose a set all season.
“We knew what we were going to face,” said FDHS head coach Sue Leonard. “Everybody knew it. In warmups the girls said, ‘They’re so big.’”
Behind a continual barrage of big hits from JMU-bound Miette Veldman, Ryanna Clark, Taylor Robertson, Annelise Wolfe and Parker Hudson, the Cavaliers pounded the spikes and the outgunned Indians couldn’t answer back, despite the best efforts of senior Maddie Painter, sophomore Leilani Goggin and the rest of the Indians.
The Cavaliers made enough mistakes early to keep the Fort with hopes.
But leading 15-10 in the first set, the Cavaliers broke away, winning the first set on a kill by Wolfe on set point.
The second set was a carbon copy of the first, again with Lord Botetourt pulling away and ending the set on a Wolfe kill.
Matters got worse in the third set as the Cavaliers scored the first eight points and cruised in from there.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t control the things we could control,” Leonard said. “I wanted the girls to see what got us here and that didn’t happen.”
Still, the Indians put up a scrappy fight in what proved to be a tremendous season.
Goggin had five kills, two blocks and two aces, while Painter had three kills, 12 assists and two blocks for the Indians.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been at this level,” Leonard said.
With just two seniors on the roster, the future for the Indians should be bright.
“They are capable of winning states,” Painter said. “I look for them to make it back.”
But Painter and Maggie Trainum will be missed.
“They made the chemistry good,” Leonard said. “Maggie (Trainum) brings so much volleyball joy and enthusiasm. It’s contagious with the young players.”
Painter, the setter for the Indians, did a little of everything on the court to make the Indians better.
“This was a big deal (making it into the state tournament),” Painter said. “We lost six seniors; the expectations weren’t great but we blew the expectations out of the water. It was a Cinderella story.”