By Dan Sousa
Viva Loudoun Editor
Ashburn (Nov. 8, 2013) – The Tuscarora High School girls volleyball team came out firing with a strong service game Thursday and knocked off No. 2 seed Briar Woods in straight sets in the Conference 14 consolation match at Stone Bridge High School. The 25-19, 25-22, 25-23 win earned the No. 4 seed Huskies the final spot from the conference in the 5A North Region tournament.
Tuscarora (17-6 record) will play at Conference 13 runner-up Mount Vernon at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. Briar Woods (16-6) will not move on.
“This was such an intense, emotional game for us,” said Tuscarora senior tri-captain and libero Claudi Le Maitre after the Huskies won the showdown against a Falcons team led by former Tuscarora coach Marsha Hermes.
Hermes started the Huskies program in 2010 but moved over to Briar Woods after last season and her revitalization of the Falcons program earned her Conference 14 Coach of the Year honors.
“They still love her but they also wanted to win,” said Tuscarora first-year coach Meghan Puckli.
Last month the two teams had split two close meetings with Tuscarora winning in four on Oct. 10 (25-17, 25-19, 26-28, 26-24) and then Briar Woods taking a tense 5-setter on Oct. 28 (27-25, 25-14, 18-25, 20-25, 15-12). On Thursday, Tuscarora jumped up early and never led Briar Woods find its footing in the first two sets.
“I think they had an air of confidence about themselves tonight,” said Puckli, whose team extended conference champion Stone Bridge to four sets in a Tuesday semifinal loss. “As the lower seed there was no pressure on them.”
Briar Woods came in to the match having suffered a tough loss Tuesday to Broad Run in the semifinals after leading 2-0 in sets and then leading again early in the fifth set before falling 18-16.
“It ended too soon — but we had a great run,” said Hermes in an email Friday morning. “The battle with Broad Run on Tuesday was a tough one and last night we just couldn’t get going. But I am very proud of the girls and all the accomplishments they made n the first season together.”
The Falcons finally got going in the third set but Tuscarora was determined to not let the Falcons extend the evening.
“We weren’t going to let it happen,” said Tuscarora senior tri-captain and setter Julia Walsh, who had 33 assists in the win.
Puckli, who played in the powerhouse Loudoun County program, said it was no surprise that the key Thursday was the Huskies clicking serve/receive game.
“From Day One, serving well has been a huge focus,” said Puckli.
The Huskies service game kept Briar Woods off-balanced enough to not allow all conference first team power hitter, sophomore Lauren Twitty (10 kills), from taking over. It also allowed Tuscarora the luxury of running their offense with the twin towers of junior outside hitter Alexis Coombs and sophomore middle hitter Lexxi Faison combing for 27 kills.
“Our court chemistry was flowing,” said Le Maitre, who patrolled the back row defensively for Tuscarora with confidence.
Early in the first set, it was the service game of Walsh that staked Tuscarora to a 8-5 lead and the Huskies never trailed again, winning the set 25-19.
In the second set, Briar Woods led 22-21 when the Huskies reeled off four straight points to go up 2-0 in sets. Walsh started the run by dumping a set over the net for a point.
Le Maitre then sent a serve over that the Briar Woods dig couldn’t handle and the ball ended up in the rafters as the Huskies took the lead 23-22. On the next point, the Huskies did a nice job of picking up a good Twitty attack and then Coombs put a kill away to make it set point. Le Maitre finished off the set with another service winner.
Briar Woods heated up in the third set with junior Lauren Mooney and senior Lindsay Boerger — playing her heart out in her final contest for Briar Woods — controlling the net as the Falcons jumped up 9-4 and then 12-6.
Tuscarora, again relying on their strong serves, worked their way back into the set but trailed 23-22. Faison had back-to-back kills to put the Huskies on top, 24-23, and then with Coombs serving the game closed out on another strong serve.
“The talent in this conference is fantastic. I’m glad I’m not a player any more. Volleyball in this area has blown up,” said Puckli.
Briar Woods Stats
Taylor van der Biezen – 1 Ace, 2 kills, 5 digs, 1 double block, and 19 assists
Lindsay Boerger – 6 kills off only 15 attempts – no errors, 1 solo block, 2 double blocks
Josie Lucernoni – 10 digs and 1 assist
Lauren Twitty – 10 kills, 6 digs, 2 double blocks
Lauren Mooney – 3 kills, 1 single block, 3 double blocks
Emily O’Brien – 4 kills, 1 single block, 4 double blocks
Kaitlyn Kelley – 3 Aces, 6 digs, 1 solo block, 2 double blocks, 1 assist.
Alexis Coombs – 16 kills
Lexxi Faison – 11 kills
Jami Adler – 6 kills
Sydney Early – 4 kills
Michelle Fleagle – 1 kill
Claudia Le Maitre – 1 kill
Julia Walsh – 1 kill
Julia Walsh – 33 assists