Knights sweep Cosby
Thomas Dale dominates home match, improves to 11-1
CHESTER — Thomas Dale Boys Volleyball (11-1) on Wednesday night defeated Class 6 rival and defending 2017 state champions Cosby (10-5) in three straight sets (25-12, 25-17, 25-18). The Knights improved on a victory from earlier in the season when it took four sets to best Cosby.
“It’s definitely a rivalry because [Cosby has] been on the winning side recently,” said Dale head coach Joshua Forbes. “We’ve been at that doorstep in playoffs. We’ve come out strong in first sets during the playoffs in years past and come out on the wrong end a couple of times. They’re one of the best programs in the state every year. It’s no different this year, so it’s definitely a little bit of extra motivation.”
The first set kicked off to an electric atmosphere with the Dale student section in full voice and visiting Cosby having more than a few supporters of its own. Cosby kicked off the game with a serve that went into the net for a piercing roar from Dale that reverberated throughout the gym.
The Knights jumped out to a quick seven-point lead with strong serving from Division I baseball recruit Karson Jennings and Division I volleyball recruit William Kimenhour. Cosby looked for a kill to end a run of losing points but were met by the strong hands of Isaiah Oriente at the net. He rose higher than the Titans’ hitter to protect his end. Down 8-2, Cosby took a timeout.
“Isaiah Oriente is kind of the unsung hero on our team. That was one of the best opening set blocking performances I’ve seen out of an individual in my time here,” Forbes said. “And, Isaiah is only a sophomore so he’s definitely got a bright future ahead and I think we’re starting to see that potential.”
The Titans came out of the timeout to a run of points, slowly working back into the game at 15-10 until Oriente and Jennings
came up with more blocks at the front. Thomas Dale took the first set 25-12.
“I think it was a total team effort. That’s the big thing, they came together,” Forbes said. “They’ve had some really good practices the past couple of days. They decided that they were going to come out, be one, communicate, execute, follow the game plan and work with each other.”
The second set opened to a flurry of points for Thomas Dale. Cosby looked equal to the task this time, going on a run of points to tie the set at 5-5. Kimenhour broke the Titans’ streak with a towering kill. His sixfoot-six frame jumped to meet the set and devastated the ball. It was too hot for the setter to handle.
The set exploded for Thomas Dale when Jennings went on a serving spree that put his team ahead by a huge margin at 21-13. The teams traded points until Dale took the set 25-17.
“We definitely had an aggressive serving strategy coming into the game and highlighted some things that we definitely wanted to achieve,” Forbes said. “They were hitting some really nice shots against us that we had to adjust to that we didn’t see last time. The guys did a great job communicating to make those shifts.”
The third set opened with kills from Zach Miller at the net. At 8-5 Dale started to pull away. Gavin Wood gathered more minutes on the court as the game moved on and had some aggressive moments at the net. Though not the same towering size as some of his teammates, Wood showcased an excellent leap and quick reflexes to tip the ball before the Titans’ hitters.
“I’ve said this multiple times: this is the deepest team I’ve ever had. One through 16, I trust every single one of them on the court,” said Forbes. “It’s great because that creates a competitive practice environment. That’s something we pride ourselves on here and something we take very seriously. I think all those reps and hard work in practice is something that came to fruition today.”
Thomas Dale rose to an 18-12 lead in the final set and ended the game on an emphatic kill. Kimenhour again took a commanding leap to get on the end of a set ball and crushed his kill through the center of Cosby’s court. The purposeful execution of his kill echoed the team attitude displayed by the Knights all evening to defeat a powerhouse program in resounding fashion.
Thomas Dale will look to add to its impressive season in its next game away at Petersburg on Oct. 16.
Thomas Dale Boys Volleyball’s William Kimenhour (from left), Isaiah Oriente and Andrew Carraway get set to jump into action after their team’s serve in the first set.