Momentum down. Momentum up. The roller coaster ride of Panther volleyball continued this past week with a loss at Madison and a victory at home against Manassas Park.
In Mountaineer territory last Thursday (Oct. 28), Rappahannock fell 2-3 in a glued-to-the-seat match to end the regular Bull Run season. “They got us in the last match with dumps and tips,” coach Jackie Tederick lamented. “We went in determined that we were not gonna give them easy points on dumps and tips. We tweaked our defense purposely to shut down Madison’s hallmark strategies.”
Lady Panthers came into the match with lots of energy, winning the first two sets with conviction: 25-13 and 25-20. When the Mountaineers rattled the Panther cage a bit in the third and fourth sets, the passing faltered.
“The girls didn’t attack,” coach Tederick noted, “and this got into their heads. The mental aspect dominoed into us being out of our defensive positions, which Madison used to their advantage.” This gave Madison the momentum and energy to win the next two sets, 21-25 and 19-25. But at the end of the fourth set, Rappahannock came back from a huge deficit and gave them renewed energy going into the critical fifth set. In the end, a serve receive and a serving error enabled Madison to pull off a fifth-set victory.
This Tuesday night (Nov. 2) brought Rappahannock from disappointment on the road to victory at home with a 3-0 win against Manassas Park in the first district semifinal match.
Rappahannock came into the first set ready to dominate. Danika Kritter took the first two points with her trademark jump serve, and Addie Swindler punctuated the opener with her second-point kill. There was a swift transition from offense to defense and a moment when Joslyn Smith prevailed when Manassas Park over-passed to “feed the beast” of her smack down.
But the Panthers did not hold the early momentum. Bad passes and hitting balls out of bounds allowed Manassas Park to creep uncomfortably close, but Rappahannock prevailed with a 25-19 victory in the first set.
A sluggish second set allowed the Cougars to cast uncertainty on what should have been a definitive win. In a scoreboard tug-of-war, Smith’s net-tastic defensive display for the last two points propelled Rappahannock to the win, 25-23.
Set three saw the Lady Panthers getting their game back. With renewed energy that included more controlled passing and genuine teamwork, Rappahannock showed Manassas Park what the point spread should have been all along, 25-11.
Senior Addie Swindler, who tallied six kills, described the match. “We were bored at first . . . lethargic. And that bit us in the tail a bit. Once we felt the heat in the second set, we picked it up.”
Coach Tederick echoed Swindler’s account and added, “We underestimated Manassas Park. They had nothing to lose and came out strong. We are off to Madison on Thursday. If we win, we’ll most likely be guaranteed a spot in region.”
Panthers are currently ranked eighth. Regionals will host the top eight teams in the tournament. The Madison match-up begins at 7 p.m. tonight (Nov. 4) on the Mountaineers’ court.
JV volleyball ends with district win
On Thursday (Oct. 28), JV ended their district season with a three-set victory at Madison. Rappahannock fell behind early in the first set but rallied behind Paige Paul’s eight straight serve points protected by some superb defensive play to take a 17-13 lead on their way to a 25-18 victory.
In the second set, Rappahannock took an early 10-5 lead, but Madison’s strong serves with the Panthers’ defensive miscues allowed Madison to pull out a 26-24 victory. In the third set, Lyndie Paul set Rappahannock up with an early lead that they refused to relinquish on their way to a 15-11 victory. Their win sealed a season-ending first-place finish in the Bull Run standings.
The season ended in a bittersweet match on Friday (Oct. 29), against a talented Wakefield Country Day team. Rappahannock dropped the match in two sets. “We came out flat,” coach Jimmy Swindler said, “and, while managing to fight back twice from deficits to get within one point at 11-12, we simply could not break a hot server from WCDS and fell to the Owls by a score of 16-24.”
The second set was much closer. “We held a tenuous three-point lead,” coach Swindler described, “until the end of the contest when both teams furiously fought for the game point, taking the score above 30.” Rappahannock fell short by a score of 30-32 with six serve errors in the match. Coach Swindler noted, “Shelby Burnett had a strong serve performance in the second game. Josie Kritter scored some excellent kills and Jane Purnell, a late season addition from the middle school team, showed great promise at the net in her first JV appearance.”
Despite the final loss, coach Swindler congratulated the girls on their outstanding season. Rappahannock finished with a 15-5 record and co-champion status in the JV division of the Bull Run district. The performance of these “Magnificent Seven,” as coach Swindler has dubbed them, certainly bodes well for Rappahannock volleyball over the next few years.
Dodson qualifies in cross country tourney
Eagles, Mustangs, Panthers, Mountaineers, Cougars, and Rams invaded the wooded trails of Rappahannock County on Wednesday, Oct. 27, to battle for Bull Run District cross country tournament medals.
Rapp hosted the six-school competition and the additional developmental race. Each team was allowed to bring its top seven boys and seven girls to run, but the event swarmed with athletes at all levels. The master of ceremonies, Panther coach James Sharpe, commented on the races: “While Rappahannock had all of its runners competing to score, other teams had as many as 50 other runners who came to run in the developmental race afterward.”
For the Lady Panthers, Brittani Dodson qualified for regionals by coming in 15th with a time of 23 minutes 27 seconds. Coach Sharpe reported: “She beat out the 16th-place girl at the finish line by an impressive three seconds.”
Out of 39 male runners, Seth Wayland, Amrit Tamang, and Matt Beck came in 18th, 19th, 20th — all under 20 minutes.
“Panther boys had a few strong performances,” according to coach Sharpe, “but we were kept out of the top 15 by Clarke and George Mason. They held 12 of the top 17 positions.”
Drama team gets competitive
“The play’s the thing,” or at least it was on Monday as Rapp’s Drama Team competed at the VHSL district competition in Madison.
“4 A.M.,” a dramedy by Jon Dorf, featured a late-night AM radio host who took the audience into the world of insomniacs and dreamers. Laughter, pathos and the costuming kept viewers constantly entertained.
Rappahannock finished an admirable third in the district and added individual awards to its reasons for applause. “I am more than pleased with a third-place finish and an overall superior rating,” director/sponsor Russell Paulette said. Mairead McLoughlin and Jessica Boutte earned Acting Recognition awards. And, for the second consecutive year, Austen Cloud received the Best Actor district award.
“While awards and accolades are nice,” Paulette commented, “what means more to me is that these students — who worked hard over the past eight-odd weeks — had the chance to compete against fellow schools, some of which are schools with a much more historied program than ours, and to go toe-to-toe against them and place competitively. A great showing for the RCHS Drama Club, and a great start to an even better season of events from us.”
Wakefield Country Day wins in triple overtime
The Wakefield Country Day School Varsity Volleyball squad hosted Wakefield Inc. in its final regular season game last Thursday (Oct. 28). After honoring the contributions and accomplishments of the seven seniors on the team, the Owls took the court and quickly pulled out in front of their opponents, holding the lead throughout the game to secure the win 25-22. In game two, Wakefield Inc. pulled ahead and the Owls didn’t have enough time to overcome the deficit.
Wakefield Inc. had the momentum entering the third game, and after a few service errors and a considerable number of unforced hitting errors, the dejected Owls lost in an uncharacteristic landslide, 7-25. WCDS regrouped and recommitted to playing technically sound volleyball, and dominated game four, 25-11. The fifth and final game of the match went into triple overtime in a point-for-point exchange, with the Owls coming out victorious to secure the game and the match. This win brings the Owls record to 14-1 overall and 8-0 in the DAC Conference. Wakefield’s next match is today (Nov. 4) at home in the semifinals.