School is back in session, and the harbingers of victory are back on the volleyball court at Rappahannock County High School.
With a 3-0 match win on Tuesday (Aug. 24), the varsity and JV volleyball Panthers soundly defeated the Culpeper Blue Devils at Rapp’s first home game of the season.
Although sports practices officially began on Aug. 2, Coach Jackie Tederick and her varsity team took the court with their full roster for the first time. With only one full-squad practice, spectators could have expected the Lady Panthers to timidly enter the game. But Danika Kritter set the tone by opening set one with an 11-point run on the scoreboard. After the Blue Devils regained control, Rapp flagged. Out of bounds hits and net violations topped the list of errors in the first set, but the Lady Panthers prevailed, 25-12.
In set two, the Ladies had a slow start with some disorganized effort, but the atmosphere shifted when senior Lauren Settle unleashed her serving prowess. Settle varied her tactics with floaters that barely cleared the net and top spin balls that dropped on the far side of the opponent’s 10-foot line. With star moments like Addie Swindler’s block and Maddie Kopjanski’s surprise dink, Kritter finished the set with three consecutive jump serves to earn the 25-9 win.
Rapp rode the wave of momentum to perform their best in the last set. Panther serves punished the Blue Devils and the offensive play dominated. Megan Early earned a crowd-pleasing, back-row ace. Joslyn Smith stole the very next point with a dramatic block at the net. Later, Hanna Kopjanski earned a thrilling point with a fake and tip that confused Culpeper, and Maddie Kopjanski’s and Joslyn’s double block enlivened the crowd. The Panthers showcased their teamwork, energy and ability to communicate to end set three, 25-7.
Coach Tederick highlighted her team’s strengths: “Freshman Maddie Kopjanski really stepped up. She went six for six with her kills. Danika Kritter served 31 of her 32 attempts and defense hustled. The first two sets were rough. In the third set, it was like the light came on.”
JV Coach Jimmie Swindler celebrated his team’s 3-0 victory as well. “It was a good first victory against a young and inexperienced Culpeper team,” Swindler said. “We had strong serving led by Lyndie Paul, Amber Dodson and Josie Kritter.”
The team’s efforts led to convincing wins of 25-5, 25-11, and 15-3. “They kept their focus,” Swindler noted. “Even with a team that wasn’t as good as they were, our team kept playing hard. The girls played with class.”
The Lady Panthers’ next two contests are both at home: a varsity-only meet 5 p.m. Friday (Aug. 27) against Fresta Valley, and 6 p.m. (JV) and 7:15 (Varsity) Tuesday, Aug. 31 against Eastern View High School.