GATE CITY — The Big Blue Machine rolls on.
With a berth in the VHSL Group A, Division 2 volleyball semifinals on the line, the Gate City Lady Blue Devils were eager to punch their ticket.
In Tuesday’s state quarterfinal matchup, Gate City overpowered visiting James River-Buchanan 25-12, 25-16, 25-15 to clinch the Lady Blue Devils’ third trip to Richmond in the past four years.
The Lady Blue Devils will take on defending state champion Mathews at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Gate City senior Erica Fugate had 18 kills and four aces in a masterful performance.
“We came out really determined and ready to play,” said Fugate, one of five seniors on the team that last won a state championship her freshman year. “We knew what was at stake. None of us seniors wanted tonight to be our last match.”
The Lady Blue Devils (30-2) had the Knights (16-8) on their heels from the start.
“Gate City manages to reload somehow every year,” said James River coach Dave McGee. “For as young and inexperienced as we are, we played about as well as I could have expected.”
There just was no stopping Fugate and her determined teammates.
“Erica is the best player in our region,” said Gate City coach Amy Reed, who has her program in the state tournament for the 10th straight season. “She is so strong, so dominant on offense and defense. She sees the court so well and is just super smart.
“She’s just a great volleyball player.”
Kaitlyn Whitt had 33 assists and Mary Whitt came up with 10 digs for Gate City. Lindsey Harper had five kills and four blocks, and Santana Bishop pounded down 10 kills.
Jenna Sprinkle led James River with 11 kills and eight digs.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of the Nov. 14 Times-News.