Ashburn, Va. (September 29, 2014) – In a highly contested match between two undefeated volleyball powerhouses, Stone Bridge was handed its first loss on the season on their home court. The Madison High School Warhawks bested the Bulldogs 25-22, 24-26, 25-17, and 25-21.
The first set was a close back and forth game with Stone Bridge starting in the lead but falling behind early on. Never more than three points back, the Bulldogs were able to tie up the score at 20-20, then again at 22-22, but weren’t able to top the Warhawks after a kill by their junior outside hitter Natale Zanellato and an ace by junior libero Avery Torres, who would prove to be a force to contend with from the service line throughout the entire match. An overpass by Stone Bridge allowed Madison to answer back with an off-speed tip that caused the Bulldogs to bobble the ball and lose the set.
The tie was scored no less than eight times in the second set which was an even closer contest than the first. With the score tied at 24 apiece, the Warhawks had the serve and the chance to take the set, but a service error gave the advantage to the Bulldogs. Two consecutive block kills by junior middle Caitlin Zura and sophomore right side hitter Gabbie Scudder gave Stone Bridge their only win of the night.
The Bulldogs came out strong in the third set on the heels of their win, and gained a five point lead thanks to two solid digs by senior defensive specialist Bianca Mostert followed by a senior outside hitter Heidi Engebrath kill. A spectacular “pancake” dig by junior libero Abby DeVido, kept the ball alive to allow senior middle hitter Shannon Williams to put the ball away. But the momentum slowly shifted away from the Bulldogs after multiple unforced errors allowed the Warhawks to catch up at 7-7, then surpass their opponents by the same point differential that they had been losing by moments before. With the Bulldogs behind 12-18, Coach Jill Raschiatore called a time out in hopes of pulling her team out of their hole, but to no avail. Continued unforced errors by the Bulldogs made it impossible for them to catch up, losing the set 17-25.
The fourth set began much the same way as the previous one, with Stone Bridge gaining a six –point lead thanks in part to a kill by junior outside hitter Maddie Ashwell and consecutive ace serves by Engebreth. But the tenacious Warhawks, led by Zanellato on the outside and strong serving by both Torres and junior defensive specialist Madeline Blake, focused on one point at a time and eventually tied the score at 12-12. A long rally highlighted by two consecutive digs by senior setter Amy Gottschling was finished by a kill by Scudder, seemingly giving the momentum back to Stone Bridge at 14-13. They pushed the score to 16-13, but then lost it again with the Warhawks powering through on a 6-2 point run. With outside hitter Zanellato getting stronger with each point, Stone Bridge fought to stay in the match. They were able to tie the score at 21-21, but a questionable call on a hit that appeared to be tipped out of bounds by Warhawks, gave the lead and the momentum back to Madison. The Bulldogs never recovered, losing the match 21-25.
Individual highlights of the match were seniors Amy Gottschling with 30 assists and Heidi Engebreth with 14 kills. Complete match statistics are below.
The Stone bridge Bulldogs are in action Wednesday against Woodson and is also the Dig Pink match so be sure to be there and wear pink.