RICHMOND --- The Madison volleyball team finished 6A state runner-up, losing in five sets to the First Colonial Patriots (25-17, 12-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23) in an epic championship match at VCU's Siegel Center.
"It was [a] good [match]," Madison head coach Carrie Hall said, "we just came out on the wrong side of it."
The Warhawks, making their first state final appearance in program history, served for match point seven times in the fifth set, but each time, the Patriots had answer. Finally, after the teams had exchanged clutch play after clutch play, First Colonial outside hitter Catie Espinoza ended the match with a kill.
The state championship was First Colonial’s third in program history.
Rowan Ennis led the Patriots with 19 kills. Espinoza finished with 17.
Undefeated and rarely tested during the season, Madison received a quick reality check as First Colonial won the opening set, 25-17.
"It was a really good wake-up call," Madison senior outside hitter Marissa Roy said. "We hadn't been challenged much at all."
The Warhawks, however, were unfazed, winning the second set, 25-12, and the third set, 25-18.
Madison led 21-20 in the fourth set, but First Colonial battled back to win, 25-23, forcing a fifth set.
Madison outside hitters Natale Zanellato and Jayne Carter carried the load offensively as the match progressed. Zanellato finished with a match-high 28 kills, and Carter tallied 17. The duo provided Madison with six of the team’s seven match points in the fifth set.
Madison’s Emily Davine finished with nine kills, and Emily Calhoun and Roy each had seven.
Junior setter Kendal Hall totaled 63 assists, and senior libero Virginia Moore tallied a team-high 26 digs.
Madison entered the state final having lost only five sets all season. The Warhawks had swept 12 consecutive opponents and hadn’t dropped a set since beating Langley in four on Oct. 16. Madison finished the season with a 33-1 record, a Conference 5 championship and a 6A North region title.
The Warhawks will graduate five players, including Roy, the region Player of the Year, and Moore, a first-team all-region selection at libero.
"Its incredible," Carrie Hall said about the Warhawks' accomplishments in 2014. "I'm in the state final for goodness sake. I think we all would say that. I know it's not what we wanted now, but when they were freshmen, did you (Madison players) think we would get to the state final when you're seniors? .... This is a great accomplishment. We've done so much for the school and the community. They were all behind us on this one. We had so much electricity in the air all week long in our school.
"I think it was great what we accomplished."