GATE CITY — After 15 matches, Gate City volleyball coach Amy Reed no longer considers her team a youthful one.
“We’re not young anymore,’’ she said Thursday after the Lady Blue Devils dispatched Lebanon in quick order 25-4, 25-14, 25-8.
Gate City (14-1, 5-0) moved one step closer to another Clinch Mountain District championship. Its remaining matches are with Lee, Virginia High and Lebanon again.
The Lady Pioneers (7-9, 1-4) were subdued by Gate City’s swift and strategic serves.
Gate City had 21 aces, seven of these by setter Callie Sloop. But it was the unorthodox deliveries of co-captain Lindsey Burke that set spectators abuzz.
Burke, one of only two seniors on the squad, has developed a slide serve that mesmerizes opponents. Before the change, she had some difficulty with violations because of her lengthy strides while moving forward.
A left-hander, she now starts on the right side of the baseline, dashes laterally to the left and smashes the ball with a jump serve on the run. The college-style move resembles a rugby punter doing his thing on a football field.
“Obviously, it’s effective,’’ Reed said. “Lindsey is so athletic and takes long steps. This gives her more room to operate.’’
Ashton Dougherty led Gate City with 10 kills. Brittany Simpson, the other co-captain, had seven kills and four aces.
“In the first game, we might have missed one serve, but too many silly errors got us out of whack,” Reed said. “We lost rhythm.
“We’ve got to be able to take back-row passes and do something with them. As we draw closer to playoff time, we’ve got to fine-tune those things and hope they don’t come back and bite us.’’
Gate City began in whirlwind fashion, opening a 9-0 lead. The Devils went flat at the start of the second game but finally regained their composure to go ahead 6-5.
The third game was almost a repeat of the first, with Gate City moving out to a 9-1 margin.
Simpson made the victory official, ending the night with three successive aces.
Gate City is the defending state champion in Group A. The Devils went 25-1 last year.
Lebanon’s leaders were Hanna Frye with five assists and Meredith Farmer with four kills.
“Gate City showed its experience,’’ Lebanon coach Kristen Fletcher said. “That is the best team we’ve seen. You’ve got to be able to serve well against a team like that. Our back row felt pressure.
“We lost seven seniors last season and have only three players back. We did play hard.’’