By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- The Strasburg Rams opened up Bull Run District play Thursday with a strong start to make quick work of Manassas Park as they dominated the evening, winning in straight sets, 3-0 (25-6, 25-18, 25-15).
"We wanted to come out with intensity," Rams senior Lauran Agnew said. "I was really pumped, and as a team we knew what we had to do coming in. The first win in districts is big and hopefully we have many more to come."
From the opening, the intensity in the Strasburg players' eyes was apparent. Agnew set the tone for her team from the service line. Agnew went to the line with her team down 1-0, and by the time the Cougars found themselves with another serve, Strasburg had racked up a 19-point lead.
"I am proud of our team and how the other girls worked hard to keep the ball at our end," Agnew said. "I just knew what our goal was coming in from the service line. We worked on serves pretty much all week in practice, and I knew what I needed to do and worked hard to do my job."
Agnew led her team to 20 straight points from the line, scoring 11 aces during the run -- including three straight on three different occasions. After her final serve from the line in the first set went out of bounds, Agnew set up teammate Samantha St. Clair on an assist for a kill. From there, the Cougars dug themselves into submission by committing four straight errors to seal their fate in the first set in a 25-6 defeat.
"Lauran [Agnew] is a consistent server," Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said. "She steps up and does a good job and is really the leader of our team. She helps motivate the others and relax them, but at the same time we have to be careful not to get too lax and concentrate on what we need to do."
Errors made the second set appear closer in the scoring column, but once again the Rams commanded after only trailing on the opening point. A kill from Anna Racey early made the score 2-1 Strasburg, and the Rams never trailed the rest of the way.
"A lot of our young girls got more playing time tonight," Agnew said. "I was very happy and glad to see how well they performed while some of the starters sat out a while. I think they did a very good job filling in."
Midway through the third set, the Rams began to regain their swagger and the momentum they had established when the night began. The trio of Agnew, St. Clair and Racey led the way by combining for 11 of the team's final 18 points and securing the first district win in as many tries.
"I think as a team we played well," Mathias said. "We set a goal to miss only three serves after our game against James Wood, where we had some troubles.
"The goal we set was to help us stay focused on what we needed to do and we did that. It was definitely nice to get the first win out of the way."