Rams top Wildcats in five-set thriller

By Brad Fauber

FRONT ROYAL — Strasburg’s volleyball team has been on that proverbial roller coaster ride all season long, so it was only fitting that the Rams found themselves locked in a see-saw battle with Bull Run District rival Warren County on Tuesday night.

In a match where neither side could seem to maintain consistency from one set to the next, it was Strasburg who managed to seize the last bit of momentum in a thrilling 3-2 (25-17, 26-28, 25-9, 20-25, 15-8) win over the Wildcats.

“That’s just been us for this season — up and down, up and down,” Rams coach Suzanne Mathias said. “I just don’t know. I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know if it’s how I’m subbing … I’m trying to figure it out.”

Warren County (4-4, 4-3 Bull Run) and Strasburg (6-3, 4-3) took turns winning sets during the match’s first two games to set up the decisive fifth set of the match.

Strasburg, sticking with the theme of the night, rebounded from a loss in the fourth set to win rather convincingly in the final game. The Rams were quick out of the gate in the final set as they jumped out to a 6-2 lead on a kill by senior Allison Bromley that forced Wildcats coach Sarah Putnam to call a timeout.

Strasburg extended its lead later in the set behind two kills apiece from Bromley and junior Hannah Keane, and an ace by Bromley gave the Rams a 13-5 lead. Keane delivered a block a few exchanges later to end the match.

Bromley, one of Strasburg’s go-to hitters this season, proved once again to be the catalyst of the Rams offense. She finished with 14 kills to go along with three aces and a block.

“I had to lead everybody in a good state of mind … get everybody talking and moving on the floor so we could get a good pass and then a set and a hit,” Bromley said. “Tonight I think I was on point pretty good.”

Strasburg was the first to gain momentum in the match as the Rams seized a 25-17 win in the opening set. The game was tied at 11-all at one point before Strasburg went on a 10-3 run that powered the Rams to the opening victory.

Warren County answered back in the second game, as the Wildcats raced out to a 14-5 lead behind three blocks and kill by junior Autumn Troxell and a kill and an ace by senior Brooke Post.

Strasburg eventually rallied back to take a 25-24 lead after back-to-back kills by Rams senior Makala Alsberry.

Alsberry appeared to cap off Strasburg’s comeback with her third consecutive kill as her shot was caromed off a Warren County defender and shot towards the wall behind the Wildcats’ defense, but the ball bounced off the basketball goal near the ceiling and Warren County was able to return the ball over the net. It fell to the floor on Strasburg’s side as the Rams were celebrating and tied the set at 25-all.

Warren County eventually won the set 28-26 on a block by Troxell.

“Strasburg definitely hustled tonight. They definitely wanted to win. My girls, they hustled and I’m proud of them for not giving up and coming back,” Wildcats coach Sarah Putnam said. “Both sides of the net really did hustle. We made each other work.”

Strasburg retaliated with a big 25-9 win in the third game as the Rams appeared to be rejuvenated by the presence of Keane, who sat out the first two sets but was inserted into the rotation.

Keane finished the night with five kills and two blocks for the Rams.

“She’s been coming off the bench first, and she just didn’t have a good practice yesterday so I didn’t bring her in to begin with,” Mathias said. “I just let her sit the first two games and that kind of put a spark under her. And it paid off for us. She kind of switched the momentum there in three and four, so that paid off.”

Warren County bounced back with a 25-20 win in the fourth set, powered by Post’s six kills in the game.

Post finished the night with 12 kills, while Troxell added nine kills and six blocks for the Wildcats.

Alsberry added 10 kills and three blocks for Strasburg, and McKenna Orndorff tallied seven kills.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD