Leesburg, Va. (September 3, 2014) – Stone Bridge High School’s five returning varsity volleyball players must have had a bad taste in their mouths. A taste that lingered from last year’s three-set rout by the now-famous Loudoun County High School 2013 team, on Stone Bridge’s home court, no less.
Tonight, those five girls and the seven newbies on Coach Jill Raschiatore’s 2014 team have nothing but wide grins on their lips after exacting a bit of sweet revenge on Loudoun County in their Leesburg gym.
The Bulldogs’ win ended the Raider’s 49-match winning streak in a game that started out looking like another sure victory for Loudoun County. “After that first set, I thought, man, this ought to be much closer competition,” stated Loudoun County volleyball parent John Aycock, who served as line judge throughout the match with Mark Vandegrift, both dads to senior setters for the Raiders, Olivia Aycock and Hannah Vandegrift.
The Raiders took the first set easily, starting out with an early six-point lead thanks to confident attacking by Aycock and UNC-bound junior outside hitter Taylor Borup. The set ended with LCHS on top 25-14.
Then John Aycock’s thought took on a life of its own. The Bulldogs came back strong in the second set after back and forth play in the first six points, taking the next four points on three kills by seniors Shannon Williams and Heidi Engebreth, and a block kill against Borup by junior middle blocker Caitlin Zura and sophomore right side Gabbie Scudder. Loudoun County never regained the lead in that set despite valiant efforts by junior middle hitter Rachel Voketaitis, who pounded the court steadily throughout the night. After a second block kill by Zura and Scudder to bring the Bulldogs in to winning position at 23-18, junior outside hitter Ashlyn Dunlop put the ball to the ground to make it set point. Junior libero Abby DeVido rattled off an ace serve on Loudoun County’s back line to win 25-18.
The pivotal third set started out looking brighter for the Raiders as Coach Sherrilyn Hanna, who had changed up players a bit in the second set, went back to her starting line up. Setter Vandegrift fed the ball to Borup who quickly put 2
points on the board, followed by another kill by Aycock. The Bulldogs struggled to answer back with several hit errors and an unusual set error by JMU-bound senior setter Amy Gottschling, but after a spectacular dig by sophomore defensive specialist Ryley Gill against Borup, things started to turn around for the Bulldogs. Senior Shannon Williams turned up the heat with smart plays including a tricky sand-court dump to the front right corner, soon followed by a block kill on Borup, bringing the score to 4-7.
Things looked bleak for the Bulldogs after another crushing kill from the middle by LCHS’s Voketaitis and a second setter error on SBHS’s Gottschling. After a block error by LCHS, Stone Bridge finally sided out and gained several points on unforced LCHS errors. With Williams’ smart serving and a tricky tip kill by Zura, Stone Bridge finally tied up the set at 9-9 and kept the lead for 11 more points. Stone Bridge defense rallied hard with several amazing saves by libero DeVido and DS Gill, but thanks to some dandy defense by Raider senior libero Emily Solis and solid serving by sophomore Rachel Cullen, County finally tied it up again at 20-20. The two team traded points until the end, but Stone Bridge setter Gottschling knew how to keep her team together after a service error by her teammate by cleverly dumping a set over the net in the donut hole of LCHS’s court, tying the set at 24s. She then ran a back set to Williams who killed it off a beautiful slide, giving the serve to Dunlop at 25-24. The junior calmly loaded up her back spin jump serve which led to an overpass by the Raiders. Williams was able to pound the errant pass over the net to win the set 26-24.
Both coaches reversed their front and back row starting line ups for the fourth set, Rashciatore hoping for a win to end the match. County, determined after going neck and neck through the first 7 points, took a lead and never looked back, winning that set much to the credit of Voketaitis and Borup on offense and Solis on defense. The Raiders won the set 25-20, forcing a decisive fifth set play-off.
Game five lived up to the hype. Both teams played tough defense and a series of side outs off kills kept the teams tied. Finally at 9-9, Stone Bridge broke out on a 6-1 run, capped by a kill and a block kill by Shannon Williams to win the match with a 15-10 game five victory.
The night was best summed by up Stone Bridge coach Jill Raschiatore, who said, “Any time you got to five games, win or lose, you come out a better team.”