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Hidden Valley Volleyball Improves To 15-0 With Sweep Of Blacksburg

With nearly half of the 2021 Hidden Valley volleyball team departing due to graduation last June, it might seem logical that the current Titan season would be a rebuilding year.

Better not try to sell that story to the current Lady Titans.

Continuing their history as one of the best volleyball programs in the state, Hidden Valley improved to 15-0 Thursday night in the Titan gym with a convincing 25-22, 26-24, 25-19 sweep of River Ridge foe Blacksburg.

The Titans, who came up just short last season before losing their only match in the state semifinals to eventual state champs Rustburg, look as talented as ever despite only one senior, Abby Crosser, who is complimented with four juniors and eight sophomores on the roster.

Hidden Valley head coach Carla Ponn looks on as her team, dominated by underclassmen, improved to 15-0.

Hidden Valley head coach Carla Ponn has her girls clicking on all cylinders, with laser kills, spectacular digs, along with quality assists and team play the standard. It’s a combination that can be overwhelming to most opponents.

Hidden Valley head coach Carla Ponn looks on as her team, dominated by underclassmen, improved to 15-0.

Key to the Titans’ success is standout sophomore Caleigh Ponn, the head coach’s daughter who established herself last season as a freshman All-everything player. Talented from the back line, great with assists and having a vicious swing for a kill that splinters opposing defenses, the younger Ponn is the catalyst for other teammates rising to the occasion.

Thursday night the talented and chippy Blacksburg team gave the Titan a battle, but Hidden Valley had the answer in all three sets. The opener had the Titans up 17-10 before Blacksburg roared back to close to 21-18. Hidden Valley got to set point at 24-18, but the Bruins made things interesting by closing to 24-22 before the Titans scored the set winner.

Set two was a nail-biter throughout with Blacksburg going up 20-19 before Hidden Valley rallied to take a 24-23 set-point advantage. The Bruins tied things at 24, before the visitors were called for two straight rotation-motion violations at the net to hand the Titans the set. It was a tricky move Blacksburg had used earlier that got the attention of Ponn.

“I kept trying to get the attention of the officials,” Ponn said afterward. “Blacksburg scored about 8 points out of incorrect rotation that made the match as close as it was.”

The third set had Hidden Valley up 19-17 and 20-18 before putting the hammer down with a 5-1 run down the stretch to clinch the match.

Caleigh Ponn led the way for Hidden Valley with 19 kills and 20 digs, while junior libero Lauren Whitaker added 20 digs, sophomore Sophie Arnold slammed down 8 kills to go with 6 digs, and soph Calli Anderson added 25 assists and 11 digs.

Caleigh Ponn talked about the Titan strategy with only a single senior and her success as a scorer.

“Our goal is to just keep winning, one match at a time, and get to the states again this year. It’s really different with only one senior, but everyone on this team is stepping up. As far as my scoring, I watch what the defense is doing and make my move.”

Carla Ponn was explicit in her evaluation of her squad.

“These girls are strong enough to make another great run,” the head coach noted. “They’re really fun to watch.”

Bill Turner

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