Volleyball bests Magruder to be county champions


Photo by Justin Miller

Junior Lauren Smith spikes the ball into the Rockets’ defense, giving the Patriots a lead in the third set.

The (15-0) girls varsity volleyball team soundly defeated Magruder on their journey to their second county championship victory in a row. En route to their county championship win, they faced off against Richard Montgomery, Rockville and Kennedy.

Against Richard Montgomery on Oct. 19, the girls started off slow, allowing the Rockets to go on an immediate run and take a 5-1 lead. The points started going back and forth until the Patriots called a timeout provoked by back-to-back kills from Richard Montgomery. The Rockets came out of the timeout hot with a 4-0 run to take an 11-point lead over the Patriots. Following an incredibly active set totaling over 30 seconds, the Patriots went on a 6-0 run sparked by another kill from junior Daniella Oyekola. The Rockets responded by going on a run of their own, finishing off the first set with a 25-19 victory.

The second set was quite the opposite of the first with the Patriots going on an early 7-0 run led by junior Rachel Huang dominating from the service zone. The Patriots used this momentum to maintain the lead and win the set at 25-11 coming from an ace from senior Miranda Saenger. The third set was an action-packed battle with both teams responding to each other’s points at nearly every rally. The set would continue to go back and forth until the Rockets strung up two back-to-back points, winning the set at a phenomenal 30-28.

Junior Lauren Smith helped the Patriots spark a 10-1 run in the fourth set, swaying the momentum and taking over the game. Smith totaled six kills on the night which helped her case in winning The Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame High School Athlete of the Week. They would continue to control the floor and win the fourth set easily, sealing it with a spike from Oyekola. The Patriots would do the same in the fifth, holding the Rockets to nine points and grabbing their 12th win. Coach Mary Malinauskas said, “This game shows how much this team wants to win and is tough enough to do what is needed to do it.”

The Patriots would direct the momentum toward their next opponents, running through both Kennedy and Rockville, winning both in three sets. These wins catapulted the girls into the county championship game against Magruder. “I’m most proud of how calm they are under pressure whether they are up or down they always stay calm,” Principal Doug Nelson said.

Against Macgruder on Nov 1, the Patriots kept the first set close but dropped the second set, losing 26-24. But just as they did against the Rockets, the Patriots came back taking the next three sets with a total score of 75-61. This win crowned the Patriots as the County Champions once again.

On Nov. 7 the team will come back to their home gym to play in the regional semi-final playoff against the winner of Richard Montgomery and Bethesda Chevy Chase.