High School Sports

No. 1 Lexington deals first loss to DF

Twenty four hours after suffering its first defeat of the season to perennial powerhouse Dorman, Lexington’s top-ranked volleyball team bounced back with a strong showing in a 3-1 win on Thursday against visiting Dutch Fork in a key early Region 5-4A match.Chee Lee’s Wildcats (6-1) jumped on the talented but inconsistent Silver Foxes from the outset, winning the first two games by 25-16 and 25-19 scores. DF avoided a shutout with a 25-18 win in the third game before Lexington put it away in the fourth game, 25-12.“I’m very happy with the performance tonight, but we still have to develop the level of consistency the best teams play at in every match,” said Lee.“This is the best team I’ve had at Lexington, and we have a chance to do something if we keep our focus and get the kind of leadership we know we need when the playoffs start.”Seniors Kellie Schmidt and Laura Grace Swindler displayed the kind of leadership by example Lee longs for against the Silver Foxes. Schmidt, a gifted outside hitter, rang up 25 kills and had a team high seven digs on the back row. Setter Swindler kept the attack humming smoothly, finishing with 34 assists. The veteran duo also was stellar at the serving line. Swindler had five aces, Schmidt three.Schmidt was key to the Wildcats fast start with eight kills and one ace in the first game. She made sure the Silver Foxes got no closer in the fourth game with nine kills.Dutch Fork, which suffered its first loss of the season, is a young team with great potential, said first-year coach Cindy Esposito.“We have all the talent in the world, but tonight we learned that beating the top teams takes a level of consistency we don’t have yet,” she said. “It all about defense, passing and setting. We have kids that can get up and hit, but volleyball is more than just blasting the ball. We’ll get there.”Unfortunately, the Silver Foxes will not be involved in the state playoffs this season. An off-season practice violation by a former assistant coach resulted in the High School League banning DF from postseason play this season.“It’s tough, but that just means that the girls now have one goal for the season – to win the region,” said Esposito, who inherited the situation.“We didn’t get it done tonight, but we have Lexington again at our place and we should be more prepared for what it takes to beat a top team.”Middle hitters Kindra Bailey and Tai LaPorte provided the bulk of the Silver Foxes offensive firepower. Bailey, one of only two seniors in the regular rotation, led the team with 16 kills. LaPorte, a junior, got off to a slow start, but was key in the Silver Foxes win in the third game. She had three kids and two blocks after DF broke an 11-11 tie to take the lead for good. LaPorte had six kills, three blocks and one ace for the match.Dutch Fork, which earn some notice with a 3-2 win over seventh-ranked White Knoll on Sept. 10, returns to action on Tuesday at home against Aiken – the only top contender for the region title.Lexington, now the only unbeaten team in region play, heads off to North Augusta next week prior to facing White Knoll for the first time this season on Sept. 24.