When a pair of volleyball teams square off on a given night, the victor, more often than not, is determined by how well each team performs in two very specific aspects of the match: the serve and serve receive.
"In any game," Jamestown coach Rebecca Zimmerman said, "the team that wins is going to be the team that can best serve and the team that can best serve receive."
And, unfortunately for Zimmerman's Red Raiders squad, it's precisely those two areas in which Falconer excels.
Falconer’s Shannon Gunnell (5) connects for one of her 12 kills during the Lady Golden Falcons’ Division 1 match with host Jamestown on Friday night. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"We focus a lot on serving," Falconer coach Darin Kennedy said. "We try to place serves, put it where (our opponent's) setters are switching and try to keep them out of system so that they can't attack us. ... We work a lot on all that. It's our first way of attacking, and right now our two strengths are the serve and serve receive."
With some relentless scoring off the serve, especially in the second and third games, the Lady Golden Falcons topped host Jamestown by games of 25-16, 25-17 and 25-14 for the Division 1 victory on Friday night at McElrath Gymnasium.
With the victory Falconer, who already defeated Randolph in a hard-fought, five-set match earlier this season, improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in league. Jamestown, meanwhile, was facing a live opponent for the first time and fell to 0-1.
After taking game one, Falconer led 3-2 early in the second when libero Makalia Haveron, who also had 28 digs, stepped up to the service line and proceeded to loft serve after serve at the Jamestown players, who were unable to receive the ball and in turn set up their own attack. All told, Haveron tallied nine consecutive points to give Falconer a commanding 11-3 advantage.
Then, after the Red Raiders managed to pull within seven, 19-12, following a pair of kills from Haley Jones, who led the Red Raiders with three kills and three block assists, it was Haveron again who recorded four more service points to all but clinch the game.
Despite trailing two games to none, the Red Raiders bounced back in the third game, building an early 6-3 advantage. But once again it was the strong serving of Falconer, this time by senior Emily Simmons, that halted the rally.
Simmons, using a jump serve, began by recording three straight aces to help Falconer regain the lead, 8-7, and then delivered the next 10 points in a row to balloon the lead to a hefty 13 points, 20-7.
"That last game we were right in it," Zimmerman said, "but then we let Simmons score (13) points in a row. I don't know how she did it. I have no answer. She wasn't serving aggressively, but she was jumping so maybe that threw us off."
Said Kennedy of his middle blocker, "She can really float it. It's her best talent, and she did it well tonight."
Simmons finished the match with seven aces and 17 service points.
Falconer relied on outside hitters Shannon Gunnell, a senior, and Alyssa Brooks, a junior, to tally the many of the points in the opening game - Gunnell racked up a pair of kills to push her team's advantage to 6-1 and then, late in the match after Jamestown had cut the deficit to six, 14-8, Brooks connected for four kills, including the game winner through a Jamestown block - to capture the first game.
"(Shannon) is our strongest hitter," Kennedy said of Gunnell, who finished with a team-high 12 kills.
Both teams will likely meet again today at the Falconer Spikefest, where the finals are tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m.