Purcellville (Nov. 8, 2013) – Loudoun Valley High School’s volleyball team took some bumps during the regular season in the challenging Dulles District. The Vikings are now reaping the benefits of that difficult schedule.
Playing in front of its home crowd in Purcellville, Valley’s improved play was on display Nov. 7 in the 3A Conference 28 tournament championship match against William Monroe.
Following a stellar rendition of the national anthem by senior middle hitter Megan Thackaberry, the Vikings cruised in each of the first two sets, then overcame an 8-1 deficit in the third to win 25-9, 25-13 and 25-21.
“No one thought we were going to make it this far,” Viking senior Tara Crim said. “I’m proud of our team because we kept pushing.”
Valley is one of two 3A schools – along with John Champe – competing in the seven-team Dulles District. The district features 4A school Loudoun County – state champions in five of the last six seasons.
“We were really able to step up when it came time for our conference tournament,” senior Olivia Barnhardt said. “We are playing at a higher level because of who we played earlier in the season.”
Leading the Vikings statistically Thursday night were juniors Sammy Iliff (13 digs, 5 aces) and Hailee Goolsby (6 kills), and seniors Allie Jarrett (12 assists), Crim (10 kills, 6 digs, 3 aces) and Barnhardt (8 kills, 13 assists).
Valley (15-9) appeared well on its way to an easy sweep of William Monroe after controlling the first two sets. However, the Dragons would not go down quietly as they jumped out to leads of 6-0, 8-1 and 9-3 in the third.
Vikings’ coach Laird Johnson called a timeout to help his team regain their focus. Valley reeled off eight straight points – seven of those coming on the serve of senior Tamasen Blaylock – to go back on top.
William Monroe would once again respond, going on a 7-3 run to take a 20-18 lead. But the Vikings would prove too tough in the end, rattling off seven of the final eight points to close it out.
“We started taking back control when we had a lot of serving streaks in the middle of the game,” Goolsby noted. “That built up our confidence again and we started playing like we should.”
Iliff was also pleased with her team’s response, “It was important that we came back and were able to overcome it.”
The Vikings will host Conference 27 runner-up Spotsylvania in the 3A East Region quarterfinals Nov. 12. The region semifinals are Nov. 14 and the championship match is Nov. 16.
“We are kind of like the underdogs. Nobody expected us to do this. We have nothing to lose,” Barnhardt said of playing in the regional tournament. “We are just here to prove ourselves and play for our school.”Crim added, “We have to play harder than we’ve ever played before.”