Leesburg, Va. — The Loudoun County High School volleyball team had a light schedule this week with only one game at home on September 7 against crosstown rival Tuscarora High School. The Captains made the most of their one opportunity this week by taking down the Huskies in straight sets: 25-22, 25-16, 25-15. Aside from the opening point of the third set, Loudoun County never trailed, and as a result they maintained control of the match throughout the entire night.
“The team has been working on always keeping a level head, always having maturity, and mental toughness throughout the game,” Loudoun County head coach Sarah Mozeyko said. “And I think in this game we did achieve that.”[adrotate banner=”38”]
The first set was a point-for-point dogfight that saw many rallies, as well as several errors from both sides of the court as each team settled in. But a nice service run by junior setter Clara Jolly midway through the set and another one by senior outside hitter Madison LaRue a few rotations later put the Captains in the driver’s seat and allowed them to close the door on Tuscarora and claim the first set, 25-22.
“A lot of the players are younger than me,” LaRue said. “And I want to be there for them and show them how we’re supposed to play County volleyball.”
Loudoun County found their rhythm in the second set as the solid defensive effort allowed the setters to run a high-tempo offense with hitting options at every location.
“Our setters have worked really really hard to get to a certain level,” Mozeyko said. “And they’ve started to achieve that, and they’ve started to run a faster offense.”
Jolly and junior setter Grace Galos combined for 25 assists, as they found their hitters everywhere on the court and evenly distributed the ball amongst them. LaRue finished with a match-high 7 kills to lead all hitters, but four other Captains added their names to the stat book with 3 or more kills apiece.
“I really think it’s just us getting into a rhythm,” LaRue said. “This season it’s a whole new team, whole new dynamic, so once we start getting into a rhythm, we’re able to run that faster offense.”
While Loudoun County settled into their offense, Tuscarora also created opportunities with hustle plays that enabled senior setter Sarah Van Glanden (17 assists) to find senior outside hitter Camden Stafford (5 kills), who put the ball away at crucial moments. The Huskies, however, struggled to gain momentum, and after a LaRue kill put the Captains up 19-12, it forced Tuscarora to take their final timeout of the set.
“We watch film on our opponents, and we break down their defense,” Mozeyko said. “We analyze which spots we need to aim towards.”
Ultimately, the service run of senior defensive specialist Zoe Wotherspoon late in the game was too much for the Huskies to handle, and Loudoun County came away with the 25-16 victory in the second set off another kill by LaRue.
“I really like just being there for the team, wanting to play for the team,” LaRue said.
The Captains jumped out to an early lead in the third set thanks to consecutive aces by junior outside hitter Ana Smithson (5 kills, 4 aces), which forced Tuscarora to burn a timeout with the score at 1-6. From there, the teams traded points back and forth and fought during long rallies, as neither team went on another run until late in the game.
Tuscarora looked to be fighting back as Van Glanden made connections with her junior middle hitters, Ella Kemp (4 kills) and Reese Johnson (3 third-set kills). But it wasn’t enough, as late service runs by Galos and LaRue put the set and the match out of reach for the Huskies and sealed the 25-15 third-set victory for the Captains.
“We’ve been focusing on lots of defense, lots of serve-receive, and working on not having non-verbal miscommunication,” Mozeyko said. “It was a weakness for us, and I think the girls, with a lot of team bonding, have started to notice their tendencies more.”
The Huskies will look to bounce back as they travel to Riverside on September 11. Loudoun County will look to extend their current win streak when they host Loudoun Valley the same day.
“I’m sad it’s my senior year,” LaRue said, “but I’m really excited to be able to lead the team and show everyone how the tradition goes with County volleyball.”