Volleyball: Panther kills not enough to overcome Strasburg

“I’m so glad we had this time together . . .” was the sentiment in the air at the Rappahannock County High School gym last Thursday night (Oct. 14), when seven Lady Panthers volleyball players dried tears and bid farewell to their teammates, fans and parents in their last season of high school play. Senior night at RCHS brought nostalgia and the momentum of victory — a short-lived momentum, as it turned out, which fizzled on this Tuesday night’s road trip to Strasburg.

At the finale of last week’s three-game schedule, Rappahannock triumphed over the Manassas Park Cougars, 25-21, 25-14 and 25-11. Coach Jackie Tederick acknowledged that Senior Night, with all its emotions, left some of the team’s leadership slow to focus.

“This was not a good match to prepare for Strasburg,” Tederick said, “but it was nice not to have to play at a high intensity level like we did two nights in a row of the same week. Don’t think we could have pulled off another challenging opponent on Thursday night. The girls were mentally and physically exhausted from playing at that level two nights in a row. So Park was a nice breather that allowed us to relax and play an easy game.”

In the Manassas Park match, the home team earned a 93-percent serving average with an impressive tally of kills: Joslyn Smith led with eight; Addie Swindler smacked down seven; Danika Kritter pounded six (with six serving aces); Bryn Sonnett landed three kills; and Kaitlyn Jenkins earned two kills with 13 service points.

In hopes the Cougar victory would propel them, the Panther girls were gunning hard for the Strasburg Rams on Oct. 19 but came up empty on the road with set scores of 15-25, 14-25 and 21-25.

“The girls played flat,” Tederick said. “There was no intensity, and we weren’t able to set up an offense due to lack of good passes.”
Although insufficient for victory, Panther kills topped the stats report again. Swindler had six, and Kritter landed four. Hanna Kopjanski, Maddie Kopjanski and Megan Early added two kills each. “It was more of a disappointment to lose,” coach Tederick said, “because we defeated ourselves.”

JV loses a close one

The Panther JV team has been tasting victory all season — until Tuesday night’s nail-biter against the Strasburg Rams. Even with a small serving of defeat, this young and talented team has much to celebrate.

Last Thursday night (Oct. 14), JV improved their record to 6-0 in the district, 13-2 overall, with their two-set victory over Manassas Park. Lyndie Paul and Josie Kritter led the way in the first set with 15 points in service, including six aces. With their help, “Rapp cruised to a 25-9 victory,” said coach Jimmy Swindler. “Then, Paul continued her serving prowess in the second game.” Paul set that tone with seven straight points; then Greta Hayden-Pless stepped up and contributed seven consecutive serve points, including three aces. Rapp triumphed in the second set, 25-14.

This Tuesday, Rapp dropped their first district game at Strasburg when they lost two close matches by scores of 24-26 and 23-25.
“Shaky defensive play was our downfall,” Swindler said. “We never got going on the defensive end and could not manage to shake off mistakes. Strasburg took an early lead in both games, but we got rattled on Ram’s home court and just could not hold on.”

Paul had another all-around outstanding game. Greta Hayden-Pless and Josie Kritter celebrated perfect games from the serve line. According to Swindler, the laudable stats just “weren’t enough to overcome our defensive struggles.”

Despite the loss, the JV Panthers are still tied for first in the Bull Run District with a 6-1 record, 13-3 overall.

Tonight (Oct. 21), Rappahannock travels to Clarke County for another district match. Varsity is predicting a win, and the JV team is prowling to defeat the team with whom it shares the district lead.