BUFFALO GAP — Riverheads continued its late-season resurgence Tuesday night as the Gladiators rolled over the Buffalo Gap Bison 25-12, 25-20, 25-15 in a Shenandoah District and potential Region 1B preview volleyball sweep.
The Gladiators, who needed only 66 minutes to dispatch the struggling Bison, increased their winning streak to five straight matches and six out of seven, all the victories coming via sweeps, which has them charging up the Region 1B power ratings. After languishing outside the region’s six-team playoff bubble a few weeks ago, Riverheads (10-7, 5-2) has raced into the No. 5 position with five matches left in the regular season.
“We are moving in the right direction one day at a time,” Riverheads first-year head coach Amy Moore said. “We were slowed early by the COVID-19 pause and injuries, but hopefully we are finishing the regular season on the right track.”
While the Gladiators appear to be playing their best volleyball of the season with the playoffs just around the corner, Buffalo Gap (8-8, 2-6) is faltering at the wrong time. The Bison have now lost four straight, which has caused them to drop from the No. 1 seed in the region to second. The No. 2 seed would still be good enough to achieve a first-round bye.
“We are in a growing process right now,” Buffalo Gap head coach Jessi Fitzgerald said. “I have full faith in the girls that we can turn it around.”
Riverheads senior Kendyl Argenbright had a monster match at the net, hitting the ball to the floor in no-man’s land of Gap’s middle defense to the tune of 14 kills.
“Kendyl is reading the defense through the net and putting the ball where they weren’t,” Moore said.
The Bison led only once in the match, which came on the opening point, and tied twice, both at 1-1 in the first and third sets.
After Gap took its only lead, the Gladiators responded with a 10-1 surge behind three kills from Argenbright and a pair of aces from Taia Chandler.
The Bison, who have only four regular-season matches remaining to get out of their current predicament, managed to close the margin to 10-7, but never got any closer as the Gladiators doubled the score to 18-9, and Argenbright finished the set with two more kills and a block on set point.
“The girls were really up for this match,” Moore said. “They know the Gap girls so well having gone through middle school together.”
Riverheads settled the second set in short order, bolting to an 11-2 advantage. Argenbright had four kills and an ace to spark the blitz, and then her sixth kill ended the set after the Bison had battled back to within 23-20.
The Gladiators methodically pulled away in the third set to complete the sweep.
“I like the intensity we are playing with right now,” Moore said. “The girls are starting to gel. We have Gracie (Fulton) back from her injury (ACL suffered in the spring), and that gives us our three seniors on the court who have started since freshmen.”
Besides her 14 kills, Argenbright added 12 digs. Dayton Moore had 25 assists, 14 digs and two kills, while Chandler pulled up 16 digs and Fulton had 15. Autumn Burkholder had six kills and Kale Argenbright added four.
For the Bison, Emma Kate Maxwell had 16 assists and nine digs, while Taylor Woods registered 20 digs. Taylor Via added 13 digs and three kills, and twin sister Teagan pounded 10 kills and made five blocks. Leah Sherrill recorded eight kills and eight digs, and Bailey Talley had nine digs. Ellee Knight contributed three kills and six digs.
Both teams continue their district schedules Thursday as the Gladiators host top-dog Fort Defiance, while the Bison travel to Stuarts Draft, which was having its own troubles on the volleyball court until beating Waynesboro on Monday and Tuesday.