By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- Caelyn Moylan can hit, and hit hard.
The Central High School junior middle hitter/opposite proved as much in Tuesday's "Dig Pink" volleyball match against host Strasburg, slamming down kill after kill in the five-set marathon.
But when it came down to match point, Moylan reined in that aggressive overhand for something a bit more subtle. Her soft-touch kill was all about placement, as she found a seam in the Rams' defense to deliver the match-winner for the Falcons in a 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 15-11) victory.
"We don't settle down or play safe," Moylan said. "We always try to play aggressively. The hard hits aren't really always the ones that matter."
Central (5-9, 3-7 Bull Run District) found a way to do a bit of both in the pivotal fifth set. The Falcons raced out to a 5-1 lead, saw that evaporate into a one-point deficit, then promptly started building again. Back-to-back aces by Kyla Strother snapped a 7-all deadlock and Tiffany Riggs followed with a block to push the Falcons' lead to three points. A pair of defensive errors by the Rams stretched that lead to 12-7 before Strasburg rallied for four straight points to get closer.
Morgan Davis got Central back on the board with a kill to the baseline, prompting the Rams to try a timeout. It didn't work, as Moylan delivered the match-winner on the next point.
"We really came out as a team," Moylan said. "We've had ups and downs, but when we step on the court nothing else matters. And that's really what our team's about -- it's about coming through when you need to, together."
Strasburg (8-5, 5-5 Bull Run) was hot and cold all night, and it showed. The Rams opened with a solid win in the opening set, but the Falcons came right back to take the next two sets. The third set wasn't particularly close, as Central's sharp serving and hitting prowess buried the Rams. Davis had a six-point service run that featured four aces.
The Rams regrouped in the fourth set behind big hitting from Allison Bromley. Leading just 20-19 in the fourth, Bromley and teammate McKenzie Stickley delivered back-to-back kills. The Falcons then gave up a point on a passing error, Bromley followed up with a block point and then closed it out with a kill.
Strasburg seemed to have the momentum, until the fifth set got underway. That's when the Falcons showed their own resilience.
"We played together," Central coach Christy Barb said. "We played as one team, one unit. That's what we have been trying to focus on all season. If we can play as a team, with 12 girls -- on the court, off the court -- than the rest will come."
Strasburg won the first matchup between the county rivals, 3-1, back on Aug. 29. It was a different story Tuesday night.
"We're too inconsistent," Rams coach Suzanne Mathias said. "We just didn't play as a team. We didn't talk. We didn't move. I'm just frustrated with them because they're so inconsistent right now, I don't know what to do with them."
Moylan finished with nine kills and five blocks for the Falcons. Strother also had nine kills, and Riggs had six kills and three blocks.
Bromley had nine kills for the Rams.
"They've got to decide they want it," Mathias said. "I, as a coach, want it. Some days they want it, some days they don't. And you've got to give it to Central -- they played really well. I commend them for the job they did. They hit the ball well, they served well and they outplayed us."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>