White hits magic number as Tide takes tourney

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Galax held off Grayson County in five sets after White put away her 1,000th career kill.

By Staff Reports

 Galax will enter the regionals as the MED tournament champion. Allison White will enter the record books.

The Maroon Tide held off a valiant effort by Grayson County and won the Mountain Empire District tournament Saturday with a 25-13, 21-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-6 win over the Blue Devils at Galax High School.

Galax will host the Region C Division 1 tournament next week, drawing a first round bye and taking the floor in the semifinals with a 23-1 record.

“I’m hoping we can play our best in the regionals,” Galax coach Rose Houk said following her 31st and final MED tournament. Houk has announced her retirement following this season. “We hope to take advantage of playing on our home court and in front of the great volleyball fans we have here in Galax.”

It will be the first time the Tide has hosted the regionals and Galax will greet the region with a team capable of a deep postseason run.

“We have a very talented team, and we just want to give our best effort from here on out and give everybody we play a run for their money,” Houk said.

Galax opened the varsity portion of the tournament with an easy three-set win over Fort Chiswell, 25-7, 25-15, 25-19. Grace Wilson served for eight straight points to close out the opening set and added a seven-point run in the third set.

Grayson County followed with what would turn into a pair of five-game marathons. Taking the first two sets from Narrows, the Blue Devils had to come through with a fast start in the fifth set to advance with a 25-16, 25-21, 14-25, 21-25, 15-10 semifinal win over the Green Wave.

Sporting a thin roster to begin with, Grayson County played much of the day down a player when Madison McCormick was lost to an injury during the Narrows match.

Galax got off to a hot start in the championship match, jumping on Grayson 25-13 in the opening set as White, a four-year starter, reached the 1,000-kill mark for her career.

“This is a first in Galax volleyball history,” said Houk. “We are all so proud of her accomplishment. She’s such a great athlete and a real joy to coach.”

Grayson County nearly stole the thunder. Rebounding with two straight wins, the Blue Devils were well on their way to knocking off the Maroon Tide in four games, taking a 16-8 lead.

“They flat out outhustled us,” Houk said of Grayson County. “They played great defense and we had a lot of unforced errors. We may have been overconfident after the first game, but we just didn’t move our feet for two games.”

The Maroon Tide settled down and regained the intensity it had shown in the opening set, catching the Blue Devils at 17-all in the fourth and holding on to tie the match at two sets apiece, then pulling away in the fifth for the title.

“We knew going in that it’s hard to beat a good team three times in a season,” Houk said. “We knew we couldn’t take Grayson lightly. I was proud of how we fought back. I was just happy to come away with a win.”

White led the Maroon Tide with 32 kills on the day, adding  38 digs, 18 serving points and seven blocks. She was named the district’s player of the year following the finals. The complete all-district team should appear in Friday’s edition.

Bailey Shumate put away 28 kills to go with 25 assists, Harley Brewer added 12 kills and 12 blocks and Wilson finished the day with 35 assists and 26 points.

 The varsity championship came on the heels of the Maroon Tide JVs edging Grayson County for its tournament title. Galax whipped Graham 25-9, 25-6 in one semifinal while Grayson overcame a 32-30 first-set loss to edge Narrows 25-23, 15-12 in the second semi.

Having lost two regular season meetings to the Blue Devils, Galax came through on its third chance, taking a 25-14, 25-22 win in the championship match.