Girls Volleyball: Weaker opponents prepare team for tough finish to regular season

Girls+Volleyball%3A+Weaker+opponents+prepare+team+for+tough+finish+to+regular+season

The start of the girls’ volleyball season was a dismal one. The team started 0-1, and to add insult to injury, that loss was against arch rival Churchill. Any loss of that magnitude is enough to stifle a team’s progress and morale for weeks.
But not this team.
Ever since the 3-1 loss to Churchill on Sept. 7, the girls have flipped the script, winning four matches in a row (as of Sept. 23), all while elevating themselves in the standings.
The girls kept the streak alive with their 3-0 conquering of Paint Branch on Sept. 22. It looked as if the Patriots would win the match from the get-go, as they held the Panthers to single-digits in the first set, winning 25-9. The Patriots couldn’t manage to hold the Panthers to a score that low in either of the next two sets, but won both by an equally impressive score of 25-13. “We have been working on playing smart while staying aggressive,” junior outside hitter Chanel Lucas said.
Two days prior to the punishing of Paint Branch, the girls kept 0-4 Einstein out of the win column on Sept. 20. The 3-0 victory was even more dominating than the Paint Branch match, as the Patriots were able to take each set by the scores of 25-8, 25-10 and 25-13. Every win is crucial, even against weaker teams, so it was important for the Patriots to show dominance in this match. “Keeping our energy up in practice and in games has helped us tremendously,” Lucas said.
The girls put themselves above .500 on Sept. 15 with a 3-1 win against Poolesville. The girls started the match off strong, winning the first set 25-10. Poolesville put up more of a fight in the second set, but the Patriots kept their distance and won 25-17. The tables turned when Poolesville escaped the sweep with a 25-20 win in the third set, but the Patriots tucked away any aspirations for a comeback with a 25-16 win in the fourth set, sealing the 3-1 victory.
The girls earned their first win of the season against the Walter Johnson Wildcats on Sept. 12. While the 3-0 match scoreline typically indicates a blowout, the Wildcats kept the match competitive. The Patriots narrowly won the first set 25-19, and even after comfortably winning the second set 25-14, the Wildcats thrashed to keep the match alive in the third set, but fell short as the Patriots won 25-21 and locked up the match sweep. “Maintaining our focus while learning and executing effective plays has contributed significantly in our recent successes,” Lucas said.
The team went on to compete in the Churchill Invitational on Sept. 24 as well as the next regular season match against Springbrook on Sept. 27, both played too late to be covered in this issue.
Looking ahead, the girls will play three considerably weaker opponents before the most important stretch of the season: the match against Northwest on Oct. 13 followed by the match against Quince Orchard on Oct. 18. Both teams rank toward the top of the county, and the position of the girls in the postseason later this fall could ultimately depend on the results of these two matches. “We need to stay aggressive and trust each other to play at our highest level,” senior captain and right side hitter Madison Adore said.
The girls have gotten the job done against weak opponents. Now, it all comes down to how they perform against teams that are better than them, as those matches will heavily reflect how they will perform in the playoffs.

 

Joe Pohoryles

JV Sports Editor