Lady Dukes net six regional honors

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cumberland County High School’s varsity girls volleyball team showed some strength on the court this season, which led to six All-Region 1B selections and two All-James River District nods.

The Lady Dukes finished the year with an overall record of 9-9. The fourth-seeded squad advanced past the regional quarterfinals and saw its season end with a 3-0 loss in the semifinals to eventual Region 1B champion Riverheads High School.

Cumberland players making the all-region and all-district second teams included junior Nikki Hurt and senior Ayana Speas. Also making the all-region second team was senior libero Kirsten Daniel.

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Lady Dukes receiving regional honorable mention were senior Nadia Elasha, junior Sydney Gilbert and junior Jordan Cooke.

“I think we were well-represented based on our record,” Cumberland Head Coach Glenda Grubbs said.

The development of Cumberland’s overall volleyball program this year left Grubbs confident about its future.

“I am enthusiastically optimistic for the program in the upcoming years,” she said. “This was probably the best all-around team that they’re going to get for the next year or two, so if they were going to do something (in the) postseason, this, talent-wise, was probably the team that was going to do that.”

She noted that next year, the Lady Dukes will have seven seniors.

“But we are losing a lot of talent, and hopefully those underclassmen will fill some voids, but it’s going to be really tough shoes to fill,” Grubbs said. “So you’re enthusiastic about what they have the potential to do and looking forward to what they will be able to actually accomplish.”

Four varsity starters will graduate at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“We’re losing Nadia, and she was our middle hitter, and we’re losing Ayana, who was our middle back, and she was our best defensive player for the year,” Grubbs said. “We’re losing Kirsten, who ended up being our libero for the second half of the season …”

Cumberland’s fourth senior starter was Brett McHenry, who was one of the team’s main setters.

Asked to point to the low point of the 2018 season for her team, Grubbs said, “That would be the loss to Prince Edward (County High School).”

The Lady Dukes opened their season Aug. 28 with a 3-0 home win against the Lady Eagles but then lost 3-2 on the road about a month later.

“We were in pretty much command of the first time we played them, and we were pretty much in command — as long as our starting crew was in — the second time we played them,” Grubbs said. “And I was trying to give the subs a little experience and went into five sets, which I was fine with knowing that we had it under control.”

But then Prince Edward scored about 10 points in a row in the fifth set that requires only 15 points to win it.

“So that was probably our low point, and the girls took that loss pretty hard,” the coach said.

Grubbs cited the high point of the season as a 3-2 upset victory over visiting Bluestone High School on Sept. 20.

“That was the best they played all season,” the coach said, “and we just kept using that as the standard: ‘You’re able to play at this level, and this needs to be the level that you strive to play at during every match,’ and (we) just couldn’t maintain that level of play during the rest of the season. If we had, we’d have been going to states.”

Lady Dukes senior Gloria Tuttle received the team’s sportsmanship award, the coach said.