“It’s always hard losing,” Palaschak said. “But what a great season they had.”
Despite taking the first set, the Cavaliers fell short to Kellam, 18-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-13, in the Class 6 state championship game.
Woodson (25-5) got an early advantage thanks to its defense, which had six blocks in the first set.
But by the second set, Kellam senior outside hitter Zelasia Edwards started finding the holes. Edwards led the Knights (27-3) with 15 kills.
The Virginia Beach program was unrelenting.
“We couldn’t get balls down,” Palaschak said of trying to beat Kellam’s defense, which got 15 digs from junior libero Kaytie Gosiene and 12 from Edwards.
Senior outside hitter Jordan Lyons was effective from both the back and front rows for the Cavaliers, contributing 15 kills and 12 digs. Junior outside Amy Burkhardt added 12 kills for Woodson.
Kellam jumped to a lead in the final two sets as strings of errors kept Woodson in a hole. Fifteen players rotated in the game in an attempt to spark a comeback for the Cavaliers, but Woodson could never make a serious run.
“They weren’t communicating, and they got really tense,” Palaschak said. “And you’ve got to give it to Kellam — they just lit up in the second, third and fourth sets.”
The Cavaliers had never before advanced past the state quarterfinals. They got over that hurdle with a sweep of South Lakes last week and then swept Washington-Liberty on Tuesday to reach Friday’s final.
“We made history for our high school,” Palaschak said. “We’re the first volleyball team that made it this far, so I’m really proud of them.”