By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- Strasburg was still feeling the sting of two straight losses when it squared off with Stonewall Jackson in a nondistrict volleyball contest on Monday night, and the Rams wanted nothing more than to take out their frustrations on their county rivals.
Strasburg was feeling a little bit better about itself at match's end, as the Rams used a strong night from the service line to beat the Generals, 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-12), for their second victory over Stonewall this season.
"We came in a little down, but we knew that we had played Stonewall before and we were familiar with how they were, where they hit," Rams junior Laura Taylor said. "We were coming in ready to win and with the mindset that we wanted to push ourselves back up top."
The Rams' offense was a little slow to get going in the match, but serving was a strong point all night, a promising sign for Strasburg after it struggled from the line in last Tuesday's loss to Madison County. On Monday, the Rams (4-2) connected for 20 aces while committing just six service errors.
"Serving is always the No. 1 thing to worry about. Serving is easy points to give away and easy points to get," said Taylor, who led the Rams with seven aces. "This past week we focused a lot on serving ... and we focused a lot on moving the ball around. We worked hard in practice this week, and it paid off."
Strasburg's offense struggled with its attacks in the early part of the match against Stonewall, as several Rams attack errors and two kills by Generals senior Desirae Blank helped erase an 8-1 Strasburg lead and cut Stonewall's deficit to three points early in the first set.
Leading 11-8, the Rams went on another 8-1 run as Strasburg got five kills and two aces from six different players during the spurt. The Rams led by no less than five points for the remainder of the set and captured the 25-18 set win on an ace by Christian Hepner.
Eight different players tallied at least one kill for Strasburg in the opening set, and 10 different players accomplished the feat throughout the three-set match as Rams coach Suzanne Mathias liberally shuffled her rotation during the contest.
"It's just so I can have more options if I need it, and just try to build confidence too," Mathias said. "I was able to do that this evening -- of course the last couple of games I've been able to just shoot some people in there and get them some playing time. It's just a confidence builder, which is nice."
The Generals (0-3) kept things close to open the second game as back-to-back blocks by sophomore Cheyenne Crigger and Allie Singleton tied the set at 12-all, but the Rams used another big run to pull away.
Strasburg started the run with a kill each by seniors Mikala Alsberry and McKenna Orndorff and two straight aces by Taylor, and the Rams ended the set on a 13-2 run.
"Right now our biggest disappointment is that we just have so much potential, we just have a group of girls that just haven't found a way to show that potential," Generals coach Jamie Armentrout said. "We're struggling with fundamentals, we're struggling with communication, and until they learn to play together, we're going to continue to struggle."
Strasburg put together its best offensive display in the final set, as Alsberry, Orndorff and Allison Bromley each tallied three kills in the set. Bromley (four total aces) and Taylor also added two aces apiece during the 25-12 win in the final set.
Stonewall was led in the match by Blank's six kills, while Singleton chipped in four kills and two blocks.
Orndorff led the Rams with seven total kills and also added two aces and a block, while Bromley and Alsberry each had six kills. Senior Marissa Doman had four aces and 12 assists for Strasburg.
Strasburg returns to Bull Run District play today with a home contest against Rappahannock County, and the Rams hope to build off the momentum from Monday's victory.
"It's good to get the mentality back, because we felt down after those two losses [last week]. It felt good to just have a positive mindset," Alsberry said. "It brings us up, and we'll be ready to play Tuesday and Thursday. I think it will keep us on a winning streak, hopefully."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD