Leesburg, Va. — The Riverside High School volleyball team hasn’t had to play from behind a lot this season. However, in their first matchup of the season against Potomac District contender Briar Woods on September 18, the Rams fell into a 2-set deficit before reverse sweeping the Falcons: 15-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-9.
In the teams’ second matchup of the season, it looked as though the Rams were off to a similar start when the Falcons jumped out to an early 9-1 lead in the first set. The Rams, however, leaned on the power of outside hitters Adriana Perodin and Simone Schaefer to claw their way back into and win the first set, before eventually completing the regular season sweep of the Falcons—25-19, 25-18, 22-25, 25-19—on October 5 in Leesburg.
“Briar Woods is good, we’re good, but at the end of the day, it came down to who had more grit,” Schaefer said. “It was a really competitive game, so I’m proud of our team.”[adrotate banner=”38″]
The Falcons opened the match playing excellent defense, jumping out to an early 7-1 lead, forcing a Riverside timeout. Following the timeout, Briar Woods extended its lead to 9-1 and looked to be in complete control.
“I think we were overhyped and needed to settle down,” Riverside head coach Reggie Cruz said. “We just needed to play the basic volleyball we know how to play. We knew we could get the lead back if we just did our jobs.”
After siding out, the Rams started to settle in, going on a 10-2 run to even out the score at 11-11, giving them the momentum. Sophomore setter Kenzie Davis continued to feed Perodin and Schaefer on the outside, and the Falcons—who were without starting opposite Skyler Riggio—didn’t have an answer on the block, as the Rams never rescinded the lead after taking it to win the first set 25-19.
“We recognized that they had a smaller pin blocker on that side, so we wanted to capitalize on that,” Cruz said.
Riverside used the carryover momentum from the first set to jump out to a 10-5 lead in the second set. Briar Woods, however, wasn’t ready to hand the match over as they battled back to tie the set up at 10-10.
From there, Riverside started to feed the middle as senior Samantha Ferguson picked up a set-high 5 kills in the Rams’ 25-18 second set win.
Trailing 2-0, the Falcons knew they weren’t out of it quite yet and showed some fight in a very back-and-forth third set, which saw eight ties and six lead changes. In the third, Briar Woods spread the attack around to five different hitters, while holding off a Riverside run in the middle of the set to cut their deficit to 2 sets to 1.
“Briar Woods is a really good team,” Perodin said. “We needed to regroup and show our grit in the fourth set.”
Much like the third set, the fourth set saw a back-and-forth battle with eight ties, but the lead changes officially stopped at 14-13 when the Rams took the lead, after returning to the one-two punch of Perodin and Schaefer, who finished the match with 17 and 19 kills respectively.
The win firmly solidifies the Rams’ (6-0, 17-0) position at the top of the Potomac District standings. Riverside—who also holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the No. 2 Falcons (4-2, 17-3)—will look to remain unbeaten when they host Potomac Falls on October 10 in Leesburg. Briar Woods will look to bounce back when they travel to Stone Bridge on the same night.
“I’ve never seen this many fans come out, so I was really excited, especially because we were able to pull out the win,” Cruz said. “As long as we stay healthy and hungry, we should be able to finish the season how we want to.”