By Jason S. Rufner
Special to Viva Loudoun via Loudoun Times-Mirror
Leesburg (Nov. 8, 2013) – Coaches can’t teach volleyball players to be tall. A team either has size or it doesn’t. With an average height of 5-foot-10, including five reaching at least six feet, Jenica Brown’s squad at Loudoun County High School has height in abundance.
The Raiders’ towering height was dominant in their 3-0 rout (25-3, 25-10, 25-16) of James Wood in the 4A Conference 21 tournament championship match Nov. 7 in Leesburg, a match that took a mere 59 minutes to complete. Loudoun County (26-0) has now won 44 consecutive matches dating back to last season.
“Our advantage was going to be size across the board,” said Brown, who has coached County to five state titles over the last six years.
“We wanted to hit hard enough that they couldn’t dig us to the center box … and we had to beat them down enough to where their scrappiness couldn’t come into play.”
Nine different Raiders registered kills in the match, led by 11 apiece from 6-foot-3 Taylor Borup and 6-foot-2 Jane Feddersen.
“We made sure to keep it away from their best passers and tried to hit their seams,” said Feddersen, one of five senior starters for the undefeated Raiders.
The victory lets County serve as host for the Region 4A-North quarterfinal match Nov. 12 versus Conference 22 runner-up Fauquier.
The Raiders’ domination began immediately after the national anthem, as the home team surged to leads of 6-1 and 13-2 to force Wood coach Jill Couturiaux into timeouts.
It hardly seemed to matter. On the strength of high-percentage striking by their array of front-line hitters, the Raiders reeled off eight straight points to close out the opening set.
“We had geared [our players] up as if they were playing the best team they’d ever seen,” Brown said. “So it really pushed them to play their best.”
The second verse was much like the first. County jumped out to a 10-1 advantage, scoring many points with just one or two volleys.
Looking to salvage a set, the Colonels (25-4) displayed spirit in the third. The girls from Winchester scrapped out to a 5-1 lead and did not allow the Raiders to overtake them through the set’s first 20 points.
But County responded, adjusting its hitting direction away from Wood’s defense and running off 12 of the final 15 points to claim the conference title.
“We powered through with encouragement from each other,” Feddersen said.
Feddersen contributed eight blocks, while Borup had four and Hannah Vandegrift notched three.
Maggie Phillips, another six-foot senior, had an all-around match with seven kills, 10 digs and three service points.
Senior liberos Kelsey Slack and Kelsey Anderson respectively punched 28 and 11 service points. Slack added 16 digs, and senior setter Mandy Powers bumped up 20 assists.
Powers also contributed four kills, all left-handed.
“I’m excited about the way all of our girls came out with enthusiasm,” Brown said.
Loudoun County Stats
Jane Feddersen (11 kills, 8 blocks, 2 service points, 1 ace), Taylor Borup (11 kills, 4 blocks, 2 digs), Maggie Phillips (7 kills, 10 digs, 3 service points), Mandy Powers (20 assists, 4 kills, 5 service points), Olivia Aycock (4 kills), Hannah Vandegrift (16 assists, 3 blocks, 2 kills, 1 dig), Kelsey Slack (16 digs, 28 service points, 1 ace), Kelsey Anderson (11 service points, 3 digs), Emily Solis (5 digs, 5 service points), Ciara Kain (1 kill, 2 digs), Lauren Topper (1 kill, 1 block), Rachel Voketaitis (1 kill).