By Jason S Rufner
Special to Viva Loudoun
Richmond (Nov. 25, 2013) – The Raider Riot, Loudoun County High School’s raucous student section, was there and was loud, which isn’t so unusual. The unusual part was the Riot didn’t see their undefeated Raider volleyball team totally steamroll over its opponent on the way to a win.
Rest assured, however, the Raiders (31-0) did win, taking three of four sets – 25-20, 23-25, 25-12, 25-23 – from Jamestown (27-2) to earn a Virginia High School League record sixth state title, all acquired in the last seven years.
But County found itself pushed by the Eagles in the 4A finals to a degree it has rarely been pushed in recent memory.
“I thought the match was pretty intense on both sides,” Loudoun County coach Jenica Brown said. “Jamestown did a really good job of pushing our weaknesses and changing in between sets, but I thought our girls did a really good job of never giving up.”
The Raiders came into the title tilt in the familiar confines of the Siegel Center at VCU having won eight straight region crowns, 48 straight matches and 79 straight sets. They had allowed just one opponent as many as 20 points in a set during the entire 2013 postseason.
But the 4A South Region champion Jamestown Eagles, semifinalists each of the past three seasons and runners-up in 2011, conveyed no intimidation from the Raider dynasty.
Early on, each side put on display the reasons why its respective achievements were so daunting. The vicious hits from the plethora of tall, long-armed Raiders like sophomore Taylor Borup, senior Jane Feddersen, senior Maggie Phillips and sophomore Rachel Voketaitis were matched by Jamestown’s own arsenal of weaponry, primarily senior outside hitter Kelly Esch, a recruited walk-on at Louisiana State University.
County couldn’t shake the game Eagles until a late mini-run gave the girls from Leesburg the early lead in sets.
Jamestown came right back in game two, going up five points early and maintaining leads of about that length. The Raiders, spurred by inspired play from left-handed hitter junior Olivia Aycock, surged late, but Esch and younger sister Maria found rare holes amid all the Raiders’ height and the Eagles handed County its first set loss since the regular season’s third match.
The third set looked more like what the Raiders riotous students were accustomed to. Up just 8-7, the Aycock-fueled Raiders took over with a 9-0 run to propel them to their biggest set win of the night.
The girls from Williamsburg didn’t go away easily. Enduring a sudden County lead of 8-0, the Eagles went on a 10-2 run of their own and stayed with the Raiders throughout before being edged at the end.
“It’s all about confidence,” senior setter Mandy Powers said. “We have so much faith in each other … we knew that even if we dropped a couple of points here and there, we’d be able to make it in the long run.”
Jamestown’s Kelly Esch led both teams with 17 kills, but County’s offense was more balanced as Aycock led seven Raiders with 13 kills, followed by Borup’s 12, Phillips’ nine and Feddersen’s seven. They were helped by Powers’ 33 assists.
The 6-foot-2 Feddersen got her hands on six blocks, while Phillips dug up 13, Powers dug up 12, Junior Emily Solis dug up 10 and the senior Libero combo of Kelsey Slack and Kelsey Anderson had 16 and 11 digs respectively.