Clarke County picks up district victory at home
By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- Strasburg suffered from an inconsistent offense and a boatload of unforced errors as the visiting Rams fell 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-21) to Bull Run District rival Clarke County on Thursday.
Strasburg committed a combined 45 errors through the match's four sets as youth and inexperience continues to plague the Rams as they head into the heart of district play. Strasburg (3-6, 2-2 Bull Run) has now lost back-to-back district contests.
"It's what we've been doing all year. We start and we do well, and then we just fall apart," said Rams coach Suzanne Mathias. "They think that they're not supposed to win, and I'm at a loss as to how get them to understand they're a good team."
Strasburg's offense came out firing early in the opening set as the Rams dug out of a 5-0 hole to take a 6-5 lead thanks to a pair of kills by senior Julia Morikawa and a kill and a block by sophomore Lindsey Painter.
Strasburg extended its lead to 19-13 later in the set to force Clarke County coach Mary Brune to call a timeout before the Eagles slowly chipped into the lead as Strasburg's offense began to get sloppy with its attacks.
A pair of kills by senior Ammie Levi pulled the Eagles to within a point with the score 21-20 in Strasburg's favor, but the Rams hung on to capture the 25-22 victory in the set.
Strasburg had 13 kills as a team in the opening set, getting four apiece from Painter, who led the team with nine kills, and Morikawa. Sophomore Christian Hepner also recorded five assists, two kills and an ace in the set.
"I thought we battled. Games two and three, they were awful, but games one and four, we had a lot of enthusiasm and hustle," Mathias said.
The second set started well for Strasburg as the Rams tallied five kills in the first nine exchanges to take a 6-3 lead, but they managed just two kills through the remainder of the set.
Levi and teammate Sydney Chrane carried the offensive load for Clarke County in the frame, with Chrane scoring four kills, an ace and a block, and Levi adding three kills, including the game-winner to seal the 25-16 win.
Levi led all players with 18 kills, and Chrane added 11 kills and four aces. Allison Bromley added eight kills for Strasburg on the night.
"We all wanted to win it. This is our home court, we didn't want to lose to them -- especially our rivals," Levi said. "We're always excited to play them, they're always a really good team."
Clarke County's offense continued to roll in the third set as the Eagles turned a 13-12 lead into a four-point lead behind a kill by Chrane and two kills by Levi, and the Eagles cruised to a 25-19 win.
The two teams battled closely in the final set as they found themselves knotted at 19-all. Strasburg got four kills in the set by Morikawa and three more by Painter, but Levi's six kills powered the Eagles.
The match ended when a dig attempt by Strasburg's Laura Taylor went wide to the left and out of bounds.
"This is only the second time since I've coached [Clarke County] that I've beaten Strasburg," said Brune. "I thought I got a lot of effort out of everybody. They're beginning to gel as a team."