Sterling, Va. — After dropping the first set, the Dominion High School volleyball team used a balanced offensive attack to take the second and third sets, before holding off a rallying Heritage High School team in the decisive fifth set—21-25, 25-16, 25-16, 18-25, 15-10—opening their Dulles District schedule with a win on September 18 in Sterling.
“We’ve been talking to our girls about staying composed through adversity,” Dominion head coach Phuong Tat said. “That’s why we set up our schedule the way we did. We didn’t want any easy wins. All the matches before this one prepared us for tonight.”[adrotate banner=”38″]
It was a slow start for Dominion, who fell into a hole early in the first set, but some quick in-game adjustments and a late first-set rally allowed the Titans to gain some momentum heading into the second set.
In the second set, freshman setter Ingrid Smith started to settle into her offense, getting more and more comfortable with her hitters as the night went on. The transition from a 6-2 offense to a 5-1 gave Smith the chance to play six rotations, where she started connecting more and more with junior right side Kaitlyn Demitz, sophomore outside hitter Megan Hiltner, and junior middle Abby Vasak.
Those three hitters combined for 11 kills in the second set as the Titans bounced back with a 25-16 win.
With the momentum on their side, the Titans stood strong in the third set as Smith started finding Vasak on the attack and added junior outside hitter Alena Smith into the mix, spreading the ball around consistently to keep the Pride defense on their toes.
“If we were just to set one girl, defenses can just lock down on her, but we have great hitters who can create opportunities for each other,” Tat said. “There were breaks and holes in the blocks because the blockers couldn’t commit to one hitter or another.”
In a 2-1 deficit, Heritage needed some momentum to give themselves a chance and got just that through some excellent serving. Aces by senior defensive specialist Sasha Borek, senior outside hitter Emily Ehrmantraut, freshman setter Annabelle Kim, sophomore libero Emily Kolas, and senior right side Anna Suto gave the Pride some life in the fourth set. That renewed energy allowed the Pride to spread the ball around on their side of the net and even the match out with the Titans following a 25-18 fourth set win.
“Heritage did a fantastic job offensively getting those cut shots on us,” Tat said. “They understood what we were giving them and took advantage of it.”
The Titans jumped out to a quick lead in the fifth and final set as Vasak—who finished with 13 kills—and Demitz—who finished with a game-high 19 kills—started to take control.
Despite dropping the opening set and failing to put Heritage away in the fourth, Dominion was able to battle through the challenge and earn the win in their Dulles District opener.
The Titans will look to add another game to their four-game win streak when they host Stone Bridge on September 19. The Pride will look to bounce back when they host John Champe on the same night.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we have to stay mentally tough and composed,” Tat said. “We’re going to face some adversity because of our tough schedule, and I think that will help prepare us for when we have to see some of the other top teams in our district.”