One glance at the banners hanging in the Chancellor High School gymnasium will explain why the Chargers’ volleyball team was so overcome with emotion Thursday night.
The Chargers captured the Battlefield District championship with a 3–1 (25–22, 25–20, 22–25, 25–18) victory over Spotsylvania County rival Courtland.
Chancellor had won the district title every year from 1999–2011.
But the Chargers hadn’t won a crown since. Courtland took the next five titles in the district, as well as Conference 22 and Conference 19.
“It’s a great feeling,” Chancellor head coach Bob Walsh said. “[Former coach Rod Crooks] started the program here and he was my mentor. So it’s good to get it back to where it belongs.”
The contest was strictly for bragging rights as it carried no weight in the upcoming Region 4B tournament. The Chargers (16–9) and Cougars (18–11) will host undetermined opponents in the first round of the region tournament next week.
Chancellor and Courtland split in the regular season. The Chargers knocked off Courtland for the first time in several years last week and the momentum carried over into the district title match.
Chargers’ sophomore middle blocker Joselyn Jones closed the match with two straight kills to end the threat of a Courtland rally.
“It was a great feeling,” Jones said of ending the contest. “I already knew I could do it based off when I did it last week to close out the game. So it was a great feeling to just to win it for the seniors.”
Chancellor has six seniors and three of them had strong performances on Thursday.
Middle blocker Sydney Collins recorded 17 kills and 16 digs. Outside hitter Kenzie Coates added nine kills and eight digs. Haley McDaniel contributed 18 digs. Two sophomores provided the bulk of the remaining offense.
Jones delivered 14 kills and 10 digs, while setter Melody Washington provided 33 assists.
Courtland veteran head coach Bob Hott said the difference in Chancellor’s team this season is experience.
“We’re still young,” Hott said. “We start a freshman and a sophomore. They’re sophomores and seniors. They’ve just got a few more people that have been there and done that than we do.”
Courtland senior Abby Wiles recorded 24 digs and became the school’s single-season record holder in digs with 412, surpassing McKay Richardson’s 396 in the 2012 season.
Anna Jordan (14 kills, six digs), Syera McCormick (seven kills, 14 digs, four aces, 11 digs), Emily Flamm (four kills, seven blocks) and Alexa Walsh (eight assists, 10 digs) were also standouts for the Cougars.
But Courtland dropped the first two games and wasn’t able to recover. The Cougars made a comeback to win Game 3, but fell behind 18–6 in Game 4 before a rally pulled them within five at 23–18.
The Chargers were able to close them out and their students stormed the court in excitement. Many of Chancellor’s fans wore all black in support of the team. The Chargers and Cougars had dueling student sections, which made for a lively environment that didn’t go unnoticed by the players.
“I think it definitely pumped us up,” Collins said. “We usually don’t have a lot of people at our games. So having them there, especially with Courtland’s cheering section, made a big impact on the game.”