By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Strasburg traveled to James Wood on Monday and fell to a powerful Colonels front line, which dominated the net to defeat the Rams 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-16).
"I really thought that we played well below what we're capable of," Rams coach Suzanne Mathias said. "We couldn't seem to pass the ball, and when you can't do that well, you're not going to get any of the rest of your game going."
Strasburg held its own with James Wood through most of the first set, but with the score tied 9-9, Colonels hitter Megan Crabtree scored on a pair of aces and Emily Shannon connected on a hard kill to put James Wood ahead, 12-9. The Colonels never trailed again in the set.
Crabtree was the key to James Wood's success, scoring on five of her eight kills in the first set as well as a block and two aces. The Rams didn't help their cause by committing five service errors.
"We committed more service errors tonight than I've ever seen a Strasburg team commit," Mathias said.
The Colonels got the set winner when a Rams serve sailed wide.
"We've been working hard on capitalizing on broken plays, reducing our errors and being consistent," James Wood coach Jill Lester said. "I thought we did a really good job of that tonight. We had only four hitting errors, which I thought was pretty impressive. As long as we keep playing at this level, I think that we can give any of the teams in this area a run for their money."
Hannah Tierney had a strong second set to lead James Wood. The Colonels senior scored on seven kills and an ace, and finished the match with 10 kills. Tierney made her presence felt early in the set when a pair of kills helped to break a 4-4 tie and push James Wood's lead to 6-4.
Tierney was just as strong during the final exchanges of the set, scoring on four kills and nailing the set-winner with an ace.
"I thought that we really picked up our intensity during the second set," Tierney said. "I thought that we were pretty evenly matched with them. Strasburg always has a well-coached team. But, tonight, I thought that we played smart and aggressive volleyball, and that paid off for us."
Strasburg rallied in the third set, and kept it close until the final exchanges. Rams hitter Lauren Agnew had her best set of the match, tallying six of her 10 kills for the night.
The Rams were close to forcing a fourth set until Shannon stepped to the net and scored on a pair of aces to distance the Colonels from Strasburg. Kills by Peyton Clark, Tierney and Emilee Payne gave James Wood an insurmountable 23-16 lead.
Payne, who finished the match with 26 assists as the Colonels' setter, got the set- and match-winner on a block.
Shannon's presence at the net was almost unstoppable for Strasburg. The James Wood senior scored on 10 kills and five aces for the match to lead the Colonels.
Crabtree wasn't far behind with eight kills, a block and three aces. Clark also had a good night for the Colonels with five kills and an ace.
"As the game went on we got more warmed up and our intensity increased," Shannon said. "They started the match strong, but we really got pumped up and responded well to them. Strasburg always has a really good team, and we were really excited about this match."
Besides Agnew, Samantha St. Clair had six kills and a block, and Casey Spiker scored on three kills for the Rams.
"We have to do the little things well when you play a good team like James Wood," Mathias said. "You can't give away points, and you have to be at the top of your game, and we definitely weren't at that level tonight."