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Comets spikers sweep PH-Ashland to land regional tourney berth

When the Halifax County High School volleyball team turned up the power in Monday night's Virginia High School League 5A North Region Conference 16 Tournament semi-final game, Patrick Henry High School-Ashland found itself overwhelmed.

Despite a little bit of a slow start, the Comets quickly got going and won the first game in the best-of-five-game match 25-19. Turning its power game up to full strength, the Comets handily won the second game 25-8 and made it a three-game sweep with a 25-16 win in the third game.

The win advances the Comets into Thursday's Conference 16 Tournament championship match against Albemarle High School, the state's third-ranked team, in Charlottesville and guarantees the Comets a home game in Saturday's first round of the 5A North Region Tournament.

"This is a big win for us," remarked Comets Head Coach Tiffaney Bratton.

"I remember back in 1989 when I was playing we won the district and still didn't get a chance to host a regional tournament game. This is a real big thing for us and I'm going to stress that to the girls. The conference has given us a second bite at the apple."

The Comets' power play was evident in the effort of Gabby Spainhour, Chris Bradshaw and Whitney White, all of whom continually pounded shot after shot at the Patriots.

Spainhour had 21 attacks and seven kills, Bradshaw logged 17 attacks and six kills and White tallied 16 attacks and eight kills.

"We had good energy and we moved and we talked," Spainhour said.

"We had good sets and good passes that led to the kills."

Spainhour explained that as the match wore on, she and her teammates were able to exploit Patrick Henry High School's weak spots.

"They (Patrick Henry High School) had some weaknesses, so we turned that to our advantage and got ahead."

In the first game, the Comets led by eight points at 20-12, but withstood a brief rally by the Patriots in which they pulled to within four points at 22-18. But, the Comets got back on track to win 25-19.

The second game was no contest as the Comets opened up an early 10-1 lead, upped their advantage to 11 points at 17-6 and won 25-8

Halifax County bolted to an early 5-1 lead in the third game but the Patriots kept the game close, pulling to within three points at 10-7. That was as close as Patrick Henry High School would get as the Comets opened up a 19-9 lead enroute to a 25-16 win to close out the match.

"We just made mistake after mistake after mistake," said Patrick Henry High School Head Coach Billy Farmer whose team was 9-10 for the season entering the match.

"Against a good team, you can't do that."

Bratton noted that her Comets team started out sluggishly, something that has occurred several times this season.

"As we usually do, we started playing like the other team," Bratton pointed out.

"They (Patrick Henry High School) were a good team blocking. That kind of threw us at first. Once we got around the block, we stepped up our power game."

Michelle Jones led the Patriots with four blocks and three kills. Amber Lee logged two blocks and three kills. Kayla Hall had seven digs, two kills, one assist and one service ace.