By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- Visiting Strasburg came out swinging against rival Central in Thursday's Bull Run District volleyball match, and for two sets it looked as though the Rams had delivered an early knockout blow.
The Falcons recovered to make a match of it, but the damage was done. Strasburg dropped the third set and survived an up-and-down fourth to pull out the 3-1 (25-13, 25-17, 19-25, 25-19) victory.
Strasburg senior Allison Bromley did plenty to secure the victory, totaling 12 kills, a pair of blocks and two aces to cap off an outstanding opening week.
"She's a strong hitter," Central coach Christy Barb said. "She has what it takes to be a front-line hitter, and seeing someone who can slam the ball and hit the ball like she does with that authority, it is hard to figure out where to play her because she can hit deep corners and she can hit right up the 3-point line."
Bromley was just one of numerous hitters pounding away at the Falcons early, as the Rams surged to a 19-10 lead with a pivotal 6-0 run in the first set to take command. Bromley started that with a block, and teammates Kelsey Horton and McKenna Orndorff added kills.
Central (0-3) had trouble with its service game, which led to too many free points for Strasburg (3-0).
That trend continued in the second set, as a slew of hitting, passing and serving errors by the Falcons combined with more solid hitting and serving by the Rams allowed Strasburg to grab a commanding 2-0 lead.
Something clicked for the Falcons in the third set -- or maybe something broke for the Rams, depending on your point of view.
"I don't know what really happened in the third game," Bromley said. "We stopped talking."
"And what else did you stop doing?," Mathias asked her after the match.
"We stopped hitting and we stopped blocking, we kept sending free balls over," Bromley said. "Then in the fourth game we picked it back up and we did pretty good."
The Falcons pulled together in the third set with a big service run by Rebecca Truban, who stretched an 11-7 lead to 16-7 with a pair of aces sandwiched between kills by Morgan Davis.
"Once we learned that we could get the momentum back with our serves and we started to see the score coming back and we were chomping away at the deficit, that's when they started to pick up and realize that they were still in it," Barb said. "They could still come out and put it to them."
The Rams battled back to within 15-10 on Laura Taylor's five-point service run, but the Falcons held them off from there to push the match to a fourth set.
Strasburg's solid serving came through again, as Christian Hepner's back-to-back aces helped break an 8-8 deadlock. The Rams pushed their lead to seven points at 16-9, but Central's Mary Wakeman served up two straight aces to help the Falcons pull back within three at 16-13. They wouldn't get that close again, as Mikala Alsberry and Bromley knocked down some timely kills.
The final point came when Central's Tiffany Riggs delivered what looked like a sure kill, only to have Hepner dive to hit an improbable return shot that fell for a winner.
"We just tried to capitalize on their mistakes," Mathias said. "I've been preaching to be aggressive with our attacks. I don't want them to free ball. When you free ball, it just makes it easier for them to set it up. I thought we did a nice job of attacking and going at them."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>