Richmond, Va – Sherrilyn Hanna has not been sleeping much these last few weeks, according to her husband Stephen. She’s been trading winks for watching scouting videos. That loss of REM paid off for her tonight, though, as her goal of keeping her team on track for winning states—again–came to fruition.
The Loudoun County Raiders looked calm and collected under the bright lights on the expansive court at VCU’s Siegel Center. Their opponents, the James Wood High School Colonels, were making their first trip ever to the State finals. They had lost to the Raiders just a week ago for the 4A Region finals in a close five-set match that saw them up 2-1 before they let down their guard against Loudoun County. As compared to the Raiders, who could possibly make their way blindfolded down I-95 to Richmond at this point. the James Wood team appeared anxious and even overwhelmed at times. The Raiders took an early lead in the first set, with James Wood head coach Jill Couturiaux calling her first time out at 14-9 after two consecutive setter errors. Her team was unable to regroup, however and she decided to call her second time out of the set just two points later. But the seven-point deficit grew to a 10-point difference after several unforced errors by the Colonels. At 22-11 James Wood put up a nice triple block on LCHS’s Taylor Borup. The 6”3” powerhouse hitter casually tipped it over the six outstretched arms at the next go-round to take the point and bring the Raiders two points from a first set win. Kills by James Wood’s outside hitter Taylor Heishmann and setter/OH Ashley Hillyard kept the set going until Borup scored a block kill to make it set point. The Colonels finished it off with a long hitting error across the back line, losing 14-25.
The Colonels made the second set more interesting with good defensive moves including a block kill against Borup by 6’2” middle blocker Lindsey Painter and Heishmann. But they remained plagued by unforced hitting and setting errors and found themselves at a five-point deficit early on. Senior Ciara Kain came on strong for the Raiders in this set with several kills on the outside to help keep her team’s lead through to 20-15 score. A kill by James Wood’s Painter helped keep the set going at 24-17, allowing her teammate Savannah Yost to fire off two aces to bring the score to 24-19. A kill by the Colonels power outside hitter Katie Houser forced the first and only Loudoun County time out at 24-20. The next point brought Colonels fans to their feet against the referee who deemed the ball touched by James Wood after a hit by Kain sailed out of bounds, giving the win to Loudoun County 25-20.
The third set saw the Raiders keeping their calm and playing their game without waivering.. Solid defensive plays by senior libero Emily Solis kept the Colonels from scoring despite multiple attempts by James Wood’s Houser. Loudoun County’s setter/opposite hitter Olivia Aycock made a surprise save off the top of her head when a tip from the Colonels bounced off the net tape. Two consecutive unforced errors by the Colonels brought the score to 15-5 in the Raiders’ favor. The Colonels tried to rally but their point deficit was too deep, and despite Loudoun County’s setter Hannah Vandegrift commiting their only service error of the night followed by a rare set error, they could not catch a break. The Raiders held the lead to the end, thanks in part to several middle hit quick kills by Aycock and junior Rachel Voketaitis. The Raiders, led by first year coach Sherrilyn Hanna, would win the set 25-13 and the match 3-0, bringing home their 7th VHSL State championship trophy in 8 years.
Viva Loudoun was at yesterday’s state championship and posted this gallery of 0f 200 photos, click here.
The Raiders were led to State Championship victory by
Taylor Borup – 15 kills, 10 digs, 5 blocks, and 7 service points
Emily Solis – 29 digs, 1 assist, and 7 service points
Hannah Vandegrift – 3 kills, 17 assists, 8 digs, 3 blocks, 1 ace, and 6 service points
Olivia Aycock – 4 kills, 16 assists, 6 digs, 2 blocks, 2 aces, and 6 service points
Rachel Voketaitis – 6 kills, 5 blocks, 1 dig, and 7 service points
Ciara Kain – 6 kills, 4 digs, and 1 block
Abby Wright – 3 kills, and 3 blocks
Rachael Cullen- 10 digs, 1 ace, and 8 service points
Here is a look back at the Raiders historic run the last 9 years.
2007: 28-0 – State Champions (AA)