By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Page County and Strasburg squared off Thursday night in volleyball action for the second time in a week.
A week ago, the two teams went to five sets before the outcome was determined. Once again, Page County turned in a valiant effort as they battled to the very end before falling victim for the second time in a week as Strasburg won in straight sets, 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-23).
"I am proud of our team," Panthers coach Alan Knight said. "We didn't give up and the girls kept fighting all night. They did a much better job as the night went on and we gave ourselves a chance to win. That's all you can ask for, is to have a chance."
Although the match was a sweep for Strasburg, it certainly was not a walk in the park for the Rams to notch their fourth consecutive win. After controlling much of the first set, Strasburg fell behind quickly in the second. Page jumped ahead with a quick 12-7 lead and found itself in command as the set got under way.
"Because of how we played when we went to Page, we knew we had to come out and get a win to start," Rams senior Lauran Agnew said. "We were able to do to start, but we made some silly mistakes and gave up some points to get behind in the second."
The Rams regrouped after calling a timeout and went on an 11-2 run to take control. During the stretch, Samantha St. Clair led the seven consecutive points from the service line, including a pair of aces. With the lead, the Rams knew they had to finish the task and they did just that.
"It was nice to see that the girls could pull together after a letdown and take the game," Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said. "They finished very well and overall played well tonight."
Agnew scored three of the final five points on kills for the Rams, and St. Clair closed out the set with a block at the net of Page County's Bethany Wentz to go ahead 2-0.
"Lauran [Agnew] is a very good overall player," Mathias said. "She does a good job of reading the floor and taking charge. We need her to be a leader and she does that. She wants the ball in her hands when we are in a tight spot and doesn't back down."
It appeared that the Rams had regained their stride as the final set began, when Agnew took her team to an 8-0 lead while at the service line. The Panthers would not give up, however, as they battled back while chipping away at the lead. Wentz led the charge and was aided by kills from teammates Danni Short and Makayla Smith to eventually tie the game at 20.
The Panthers went ahead 23-21, forcing Mathias to call the second timeout in a short span to refocus her team. The move did the trick and seemed to throw the Panthers off their game when the teams retook the court. A Panthers' serve that went out of play was followed by a return from Kayla Dean that went out of bounds, and suddenly the set was tied once again.
"We let down and weren't covering or getting our passes and we needed to refocus," Mathias said. "I wanted to slow their momentum. The girls did a good job and kept plugging, and did a good job of battling from behind."
Strasburg delivered again in crunch time, when Corissa Alsberry recorded a kill to give her team set point. Agnew then slammed home her 12th kill of the night to end the set and give her team the victory.
"I am proud that we didn't give up," Agnew said. "We were a little unfocused and they were able to pick up the lead in the third, but we regained ourselves and kept fighting and I'm glad we were able to pull out the win."