By Jeff Nations - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- A note of wistfulness creeps into Quantico High School volleyball coach Robert Hume's voice when he talks about junior Marquis Brown.
A 5-foot-8 junior playing her first season of organized volleyball, Brown flashed dazzling athletic ability during the Warriors' 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-19) victory over host Randolph-Macon Academy in Tuesday's Delaney Athletic Conference matchup.
An accomplished leaper with a soft touch around the net, Brown is the type of player you could easily envision progressing into a real force someday as she gains experience.
Whether that experience will come at Quantico, a United States Department of Defense-run school for military dependents, is always so very uncertain.
"She's a good athlete and she's extremely coachable and that certainly helps us," Hume said. "She's a junior, so we'll have her for one more year, hopefully, unless her dad gets orders for somewhere and they move away. That's the nature of the beast at Quantico."
On Tuesday at least, Quantico (6-3, 4-1 DAC) benefited from Brown's high-impact presence in the middle. Brown tallied team-highs of six kills and four dinks, and provided the Warriors with a reliable scorer to pair with their outstanding service game.
R-MA (0-3) fielded its third starting lineup in as many matches, and that inexperience showed early as the Yellow Jackets fell behind 15-3 in the opening set. Quantico's Brianna Glembin did much of that damage with an eight-point service run to open the match, including three aces. R-MA did regroup, as Taylor Jones followed teammate Libby Doran's kill with three straight aces to narrow the deficit to 15-8.
The Yellow Jackets stayed within seven until Brown's kill sparked a 5-2 surge for Quantico that effectively put the set out of reach.
"I was real proud of the girls because serve-receive is something we've been working on, and they did have some good servers," R-MA coach Cathy Brill said. "But after the first [set] and we got over our nerves, I thought we did better with our serve-receive."
Deadlocked at 7-all in the second set, the Yellow Jackets pushed ahead on Lauren Allen's five-point service run which was helped along by a pair of Keli Hutcheson kills.
The Warriors chipped away, finally taking the lead at 17-16 and stayed out front the rest of the way for the win. Emmanuella Imansuangbon's ace got R-MA to within two at 24-22, but Quantico's Hayley Stillings closed out the set with a kill.
The third set bore eerie resemblance to the first for R-MA, as the Warriors got strong serving from Glembin to jump ahead 8-2. The Yellow Jackets charged right back into the set, though, with a 7-1 run to knot the score at 9-all. A kill by Quantico's Brown pushed her team's lead to 15-13, and the Warriors gradually pulled away from there.
Quantico finished the match with 15 aces while committing just 11 service errors.
"I think that's what you've got to do in high school volleyball," Hume said. "They say that 50 percent of the points in a high school volleyball game come from errors, so it just makes sense that if you can get rid of those then you put yourself in a good place."
Hutcheson led R-MA with six kills, Imansuangbon had four kills and Allen chipped in four kills and six digs. Also for the Yellow Jackets, Taylor Jones and Juliet Arcilla Rojas delivered four aces apiece, and Doran had six digs and 12 assists.
Brill saw plenty of positives despite the defeat.
"Since we start so late, we're still trying to get our lineup and get everybody playing in the position we want them to play in," she said. "This is the third girl I've tried at libero, and I was pleased -- we had quite a few digs."