Serving strong sparks Rams past Stonewall

STRASBURG — Strasburg High School volleyball coach Suzanne Mathias wanted her team to serve aggressively and she got exactly what she was looking for on Tuesday night.

The Rams used strong serving and a balanced hitting attack to pull out a 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-20) non-district victory over Stonewall Jackson High School.

“We were aggressive back there, and I told them that throws the other team off their game if you can serve aggressive and they can’t get a good pass on it,” Mathias said of Strasburg’s serving. “I’m pleased with it.”

The Rams had 18 service aces, including 11 by Haley Copeland. The senior played a big role in Strasburg’s quick start to the second set.

After a Stonewall Jackson service error, Copeland served 10 consecutive points, including five aces.

“She was really on tonight,” Mathias said of Copeland.

By the time Copeland was done serving the Rams had an 11-0 lead.

“I just don’t understand how you can go from losing 25-22 (in the first set) to being down to 10-0 in the second game,” Stonewall Jackson coach Lindsey Hoover said. “That’s definitely something that we need to work on. … We had momentum at the end of the first game. I told them at the beginning of the second game, I told them ‘we have momentum. We need to build on that,’ but I guess when a team gets point after point after point on you, you start to get down. That’s something we need to work on. They need to be able to pick themselves up and keep going.”

The Rams (3-1) eventually built the lead to 19-4, before holding for a 25-12 win in the set.

Stonewall Jackson started off strong in the third set, taking a 6-3 edge. Two kills by Strasburg’s Rachel Funkhouser and one by Emily Alexander helped the Rams rally for a 7-6 lead.

The two teams went back and forth until Copeland came back to the service line. She had six service points in a row, including an ace and a kill each by Cassie Cooper, Carey Scott and Miley Hupp for a 19-13 edge.

The Generals cut the lead to four points, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way.

In the first set Strasburg built a 19-9 lead, once again sparked by the serving of Copeland. The Rams led 12-8 when Copeland went to the service line and ran off seven straight points, including five consecutive aces.

The Generals battled back and cut the lead to 23-21 on a kill by Brittany Singleton and an ace by Emily Ball. A Stonewall Jackson error gave the Rams a three-point cushion. The two teams traded service errors to end the set.

“I thought we played well this evening with transition,” Mathias said. “Things that we’ve been talking about in practice I thought that we actually executed very well. We read the floor. Overall, I thought we played a really good match.”

The Generals were led by Delaney Wallace with three kills and Madison Long with two kills, two assists and three service aces. Ball had two kills and three digs and Singleton had two kills and a block for the Generals.

“I am still hopeful,” Hoover said. “I’m hoping that these non-district games will make us ready for our district. … It’s not fun losing against a rrival, but it’s a learning experience.”

Copeland had 16 assists to go with her service aces. Cooper had five kills and nine assists, and Scott, Alexander and Funkhouser had five kills each for the Rams. Kelsey Jenkins had seven digs for Strasburg.

Mathias said she was pleased with the balance she had from her hitters.

“The setters did a good job moving it around, and I felt that we read the floor and put the ball where they were not,” Mathias said.

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