Ashburn, Va (November 15, 2014) – The Briar Woods volleyball team traveled to Stone Bridge for the 5A North Regional Championship and their third meeting of the season. Briar won the regular season match 3-2, Stone Bridge won the second match 3-0 at the conference championship. This was the “Road Match” as the winner would play the State semi-finals home on Tuesday and the loser would have to travel to Virginia Beach.
The match started well for Stone Bridge, trading points in game one until Stone Bridge’s Ashlyn Dunlop utilized her jump serves to pull the Bulldogs ahead. They never looked back, cruising to a 25-12 victory. In game two Stone Bridge again opened up hot with a 9-5 lead when Bulldog Senior Heidi Engebreth’s service ace in the corner made it 11-6. At 16-9 digs by Briar Woods Josie Lucernoni and kills by Sydney Daniel helped Briar to close the lead to 17-14. Three unforced errors Stone Bridge and an ace by Falcon Jasmine Ellison tied it up at 17 all. A middle kill Heidi Engebreth and 2 consecutive hitting errors by Briar Woods made it 20-17 when Briar coach Marsha Hermes called a time out to regroup. Bulldog’s Shannon Williams’ bullet serves and a block by Engebrath and Gabbie Scudder brought Stone Bridge to set point. A kill by Dunlop sealed the win for the Bulldogs at 25-18.
Down two games to none Briar Woods was at the verge of defeat. Before the third match coach Hermes told her girls to regroup and focus all energy on the third game. As she put it, “if we win the third, it is going to five games.”
In set 3 unforced errors by Stone Bridge, a big kill by Briar’s Ellison and a block error by Williams gave the Falcons a 6-2 lead over the Bulldogs. A double hit by Briar Woods and three errors by the Bulldogs made it 9-3 Briar. Stone Bridge surged back with a shooting dump to the back corner by Engebreth followed by a kill and a block by Dunlop and a double block by Scudder and Caitlin Zura, cutting Briar’s lead to 10-7. A pair of kills by Briar Woods senior Lauren Twitty gave the Falcons a 14-9 lead. That six point lead was all the Falcons needed as they traded point and held on to win the third set 25-20.
Set four opened with Stone bridge trying to shake off the loss and prevent the Falcons from getting any momentum. The Bulldogs opened an 11-7 lead but Briar Woods senior Taylor van der Biezen fired off three kills to pull Briar to 10-11. A Bulldog error and two kills by Falcons Twitty gave Briar their first lead of the set 13-11. From that point on all momentum swung the Falcons’ way. Despite an amazing save in which defensive specialist Ryley Gill nearly ran out the gym side door to pop up an errant pass, followed by libero Abby DeVido power-bumping the 3rd ball over the net, Twitty responded with screaming kill in the back corner. Briar Woods ended up scoring 12 of the next 16 points and winning set four convincingly 25-15.
Set five opened with the match, the regional title, and home court advantage for the opening State round at stake. Like most fifth sets the teams traded points 2-2, 3-3. A hitting error by Twitty gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead. Later another kill by Twitty gave Briar a two point lead at 10-8. The difference was solid Briar block and defense coupled with hitting and blocking errors by the Bulldogs which gave the Briar Woods Falcons a 15-9 victory and the Regional Championship.
After the match Briar Woods head coach Marsha Hermes was “at a loss for words” to describe this roller coaster match. “The girls came out flat but battled back” and according to Hermes the Falcons spent all season working on this scenario: the times when they were playing bad, down in the match and focusing on fighting back. It was never more evident than in Saturday’s championship match. Reflecting on her team coach Hermes said she has never had such a dedicated, competitive and supportive team as these 14 girls and as far as they are concerned they haven’t hit their peak yet.
When asked about the possibility of facing the Bulldogs a fourth time in the State championship next Saturday Coach Hermes said she expects to see Stone Bridge one last time.
The Falcons host Lee-Davis on Tuesday at 7PM and the Bulldogs travel to Princess Ann in Virginia Beach on Tuesday.
Viva Loudoun took 140 pictures of the match and they can be viewed here.
Stat Leaders for the Briar Woods Falcons were:
Sydney Daniel – 21 Kills, 8 Digs, & 1 Double Block
Jasmine Ellison – 15 Kills, 3 Aces, 5 Double Block, 1 Solo Blocks, 8 Digs, & 3 Assists
Taylor van der Biezen – 44 Assists, 17 Digs, & 2 Double Blocks
Lauren Twitty – 12 Kills, 1 Ace , 17 Digs, 2 Double Blocks, & 1 Solo Block
Josie Lucernoni – 38 Digs
State for the Stone Bridge Bulldogs were: