Eagles sweep struggling Strasburg

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STRASBURG — Clarke County and Strasburg were both searching for consistency entering Thursday’s volleyball match in what has been an up-and-down season for both teams. Clarke County found it, while Strasburg’s season-long struggles continued.

The Eagles played solid throughout in a 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 26-24) win over Strasburg in Bull Run District action.

“I think that our girls played with the intensity we’ve been looking for this season — tonight,” Clarke County coach Seneca Sowers said. “We’ve been trying to get to that consistent level of volleyball — that Clarke volleyball — where we’ve fallen off a little bit. I thought the girls really brought it back tonight.”

The Eagles came out strong as they built a 10-4 lead, led by two kills from Javonna Lansdown and a kill each by Kaitlyn Turner and Madison Mackintosh.

The Rams were able to respond as they cut the lead to 14-13, sparked by the play of Hannah Keane and Laura Taylor.

“Laura’s came in and worked hard and picked up the slack with people that are struggling,” Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said of Taylor. “She picked up Carey [Scott] the other night at William Monroe and then she came in tonight and picked Carey back up again. Because Carey’s struggling a little bit, and Laura is just one of those I can got to and say ‘go do this’ or ‘go do this’ and she does it.”

The Eagles were able to extend the lead back to 21-18, but Strasburg had one more rally in them. A block by Taylor and a kill by Keane helped cut the lead to 22-21.

A kill by Lansdown and an ace by Turner extended the lead to 24-21. After another Taylor block cut the lead to two, a Strasburg service error sealed the win for the Eagles.

The Eagles (7-5, 5-4 Bull Run) soared out to a 9-4 lead in the second set and cruised from there. Strasburg was able to cut the deficit to 16-13 on a kill by Kerigan Jenkins, but the Eagles used a 9-2 spurt to seal the victory.

“It all starts with just one good play,” Keane said. “If we get pumped, we keep going. Then it’s the same thing with mistakes. You feed off of mistakes like you feed off of kills, which we shouldn’t do.”

Strasburg (6-6, 3-6) led early in the third set, but the Eagles bounced back with nine consecutive points for a 10-4 lead.

A kill and a block by Keane and a kill by Jenkins helped the Rams stay close in the third set, at 11-10. The Eagles continued to hold a slim lead until Strasburg used a 4-0 run to take a 20-18 lead, aided by a kill each from Keane and Emily Alexander.

Mathias said Strasburg’s runs late in the set have become a pattern.

“It’s kind of what they’ve been doing,” Mathias said. “They’ve been putting some runs together and they just keep falling short, because the last five points of the set are the only things that’s important. You’ve got to start from the beginning, and I’m just frustrated.”

Clarke County battled back and appeared ready to finish off the match with a 6-2 run and a 24-21 lead. The Rams responded with three consecutive points, including a Christian Hepner kill and a Haley Copeland ace to tie at 24-24.

A service error and a hitting error sealed the match for the Eagles.

Sowers said her young team is down to eight right now due to injuries and she was happy with how they stuck together.

“Even when things got tough and Strasburg pulled it tight, they wanted to win and the girls played to win,” Sowers said. “It wasn’t not to lose, which I thought was fantastic. They really played as a team.”

Lansdown led the Eagles with nine kills, and Rebecca Acland had five blocks. Turner finished with four kills, and Allegra Eyles had three kills and three blocks for Clarke County.

“We’re a young team, so we kind of had three quick wins early in the season and then when things get hard that’s really the test of a young team,” Sowers said. “So we had a lot of figuring out to do. Now we’re starting to work through it and get on the other end of it. It just takes time and the team chemistry is starting to get back and feel more comfortable with one another as well.”

Keane had seven kills and a block, and Taylor finished with two kills and three blocks for the Rams. Alexander added two kills and a block and Jenkins had two kills for Strasburg.
Mathias said the team needs to stop making the easy mistakes and play with the same intensity throughout the match.

“It’s just mistakes that we’re making. We have to clean it up,” Mathias said. “I feel we can be closer to the top [of the district] than what we are if we clean that up.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler.com