Volleyball Panthers’ wins keep them in second; JV takes first

The wheels on the bus go round and round. For the last week, Panther volleyball has been on the road. Their odyssey brought victory to the varsity scoreboard and first-place standing to the JV team.

Varsity Panthers continue to prowl the court in an attempt to maintain their second-place standing in the district. Their pair of wins over Clarke and Madison may be the harbingers of a solid place in Bull Run.

The Oct. 21 match at Clarke allowed Rappahannock to show off its defensive domination skills with a 3-0 victory: 25-11, 25-20, 25-22. Danika Kritter led the smack-down show with 10 kills, two blocks, eight service points and 15 assists. Addie Swindler rose again to add five kills and 12 serves. Hanna Kopjanski fired five kills and landed nine service points, and sister Maddie Kopjanski executed two kills.

On the Mason Mustangs’ court, Panthers took their prey again in three sets: 25-27, 25-8, 25-21. Kritter, Hanna Kopjanski and Swindler each had nine kills, and Joslyn Smith chimed in with three additional fiery hits. Kritter powered some points with nine ace serves, while Kopjanski and Swindler added eight service points. Lauren Settle set her way to earning eight assists.

Coach Jackie Tederick sits poised to lead her ladies to the upper ranks of the Bull Run District. “We are gearing up for a showdown against Madison on Thursday [Oct. 28] to determine who will be second place in district. We are tied at this point. Bull Run district playoffs begin next Tuesday night with quarter finals. If we beat Madison, we get a bye.
“This is the best time of the entire season . . . girls come out and play with heart . . . they have a ‘not gonna go down without fight’ mentality. Play during this time of year will determine our matchup in districts and region playoffs. Let the games begin!”

JV retakes district lead

Last Thursday (Oct. 21), the JV team recovered their sole possession of first place in the Bull Run District when they swept Clarke County, 2-0. Rappahannock fell behind early in the first set, 5-9, but then surged to a 16-10 lead behind 10 consecutive serve points from Greta Hayden-Pless.

Her eager teammates unleashed their outstanding defensive skills, then Josie Kritter served six straight and led the girls to a 25-13 victory. Set two was much closer as Panthers once again fell behind early. As they struggled to stay within reach, coach Jimmy Swindler called a timeout with score of 18-20. The girls regained their focus and command of the ball. Paige Paul fired five straight points on serve, including two aces, and pushed the team over the top to a 25-22 victory.

Coach Swindler credited solid serving. Shelby Burnett, Lyndie Paul and Kritter each had perfect games from the serve line. “We re-found our ability to bounce back from mistakes and to play amazing defense — hustling and talking to each other to make the key plays to stop the Eagles in mid-flight,” Swindler said. “As they have all season, Lyndie Paul and Kritter played solid games.”

Swindler also complimented Peyton Bailey. “She stepped up with her most outstanding performance of the season to lead the Magnificent Seven to victory against the team with whom they had shared the district lead.”

In the wake of their victory over the Eagles, JV suffered a disappointing loss Tuesday night (Oct. 26) at the hands of a much-improved George Mason, losing the match in three sets.

Mustangs dominated their home court in the first set, 25-11, but hope came in the midst of the match. Coach Swindler described the ups and downs. “We could not protect our serve and were never able to score more than one point off any player’s serve. The second set was a different story. We found our defense and regained momentum to win by a score of 25-13. The third set, unfortunately, was more like the first, as we just could not get any good serve runs going and dropped the game 11-15.” Kritter led all servers, and Paige Paul was the only player to have an error-free serving game.

Despite the loss, which dropped the Panthers to 14-4 overall and 7-2 in the district, Rappahannock JV remains in first place with one district game remaining Thursday (Oct. 28) at Madison.