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H.S. volleyball: Hidden Valley overcomes slow start, tops Abingdon to clinch Class 3 state berth

H.S. volleyball: Hidden Valley overcomes slow start, tops Abingdon to clinch Class 3 state berth

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After the first set of Thursday night’s Region 3D volleyball semifinal at Hidden Valley, the Titans’ video camera that was recording the match tumbled into the bleachers with a loud crash.

Then the tripod took on a life of its own and slid row by row, thump, thump, thump, all the way to the playing floor.

For a time, it appeared Hidden Valley’s season might go down the same way.

Visiting Abingdon whacked Hidden Valley in the first set before the Titans recovered for a 13-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-11 victory to earn another berth in the VHSL Class 3 state tournament.

Hidden Valley (23-4) will play for the region title Tuesday at unbeaten Lord Botetourt. The winner gets to play the Region 3C runner-up at home Nov. 16.

With a lineup that included three NCAA Division II recruits, Abingdon (25-4) served notice, but the Falcons could not finish the job.

“They just came out way stronger than we expected,” Hidden Valley sophomore setter Faith Mitchell said. “They were good, definitely better than the teams we have played in the past.”

Mitchell had 28 assists, 15 digs and two aces for the Titans, who led 22-19 in Set 3 when the match reached a pivotal point.

The two teams contested a long point, featuring an impressive dig by Mitchell, who later set up fellow sophomore Cam Davenport for a kill and a 23-19 lead.

Davenport finished with a team-high 15 kills, seven digs, four aces and three blocks.

“She’s definitely my go-to hitter,” Mitchell said. “She can put the ball down in moments like that. Our middles were a little shaken up by their big middle.”

Abingdon’s front row included Cassie Farley (12 kills, nine blocks), Morgan Blevins (nine kills, eight digs) and high-leaping Katie Harless (six kills).

Farley has committed to UVa-Wise while Harless and middle blocker Kara Miller are headed to King University.

“We thought we had a pretty good chance this year,” Abingdon coach Rachel Kopp said. “We knew Hidden Valley would be tough, like always.

“They’re used to winning, but you know what, here recently we’ve been a little used to winning too. We wanted to make this one happen. It’s one of the best efforts we’ve given up here in this caliber game.”

Hidden Valley coach Carla Ponn was highly complimentary of Abingdon after the four-set victory.

“They’re so good. Please tell me they’re graduating,” Ponn said to an Abingdon fan.

Mitchell said Ponn accentuated the positive after the first set, in which the visitors blew out to a 13-4 lead and cruised.

“When you look over, you can see her get a little mad, but when we get in the huddle she calms us down because usually we’re on the court freaking out, going crazy,” the Hidden Valley setter said.

Senior Frannie Sine helped settle the Titans with 13 kills, six assists and eight digs. Amber Assaid added 14 digs, while Leilani Pickens had six kills and three blocks.

Now comes the test against two-time defending Class 3 state champion Lord Botetourt, which has not lost a set in 27 matches this season.

Hidden Valley is buoyed by a close five-set loss to the Cavaliers in last year’s state semifinal in Daleville.

“Coach just told us that nothing’s impossible,” Mitchell said. “We can do it. We just have to go in with the mindset that we can.”

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