Rams fall to Clarke County in four sets

BERRYVILLE – Strasburg’s volleyball team put up a strong fight against Clarke County on Tuesday night, but in the end it was too much for Strasburg to handle.

The Clarke county sophomore had 27 kills to help the Eagles pull out a 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17) Conference 35 semifinal win over Strasburg. With the win the Eagles advance to the conference final at George Mason on Thursday, and to next week’s Region 2A East tournament.

“I’m pleased. I thought we battled and we left our heart on the floor,” Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said. “I’ve seen us play better, but to be the last game I’ll take it.”

It looked like the third-seeded Rams might be on their way to an upset over the second-seeded Eagles midway through the match.

The Rams led 20-19 in the third set after a kill by Carey Scott and a block by freshman Daniella Henry.

Clarke County responded by winning six of the next eight points, including four kills by Lansdown.

“She had her A game tonight,” Clarke County coach Seneca Sowers said. “I think that overall this was her best game, not just hitting but also passing, back row, not letting balls drop, as well as serving tonight.”

Lansdown had nine kills in the opening set and the Eagles dominated play at the net in winning 25-16.

In the second set, Mathias put Henry, who just recently moved up from the JV squad, into the game. The 6-foot-1 middle hitter was able to get some blocks on Lansdown in the second set and keyed success for Strasburg.

“I thought Daniella came in and did a really good job and closed down the hits a little bit,” Mathias said. “That helped us be able to attack a little bit better. It just wasn’t enough tonight.”

The two teams went back and forth in the second set. Clarke County held a 17-15 lead, but the Rams rallied with three straight points on a kill each by Scott and Cassie Cooper and an ace by Cortney McDonald.

The Rams (8-13) stretched the lead to 21-19 on back-to-back kills by Henry and Emily Alexander. A kill each by Alexander and Rachel Funkhouser pushed the lead to 23-20, but the Eagles answered with a kill by Allegra Eyles and an ace by Ashley Marean.

A Clarke County error gave the Rams a 24-22 edge and Funkhouser finished the set off with a block to even the match at 1-1.

Sowers said she felt the second set really woke her team up.

“We talked about what was at stake yesterday and today before the game – lose the season is done, win we’re going on to regionals,” Sowers said. “I don’t think it really sunk in that this could possibly be the end until we lost that second set.”

The Rams built a quick 5-0 lead in the fourth set, but Clarke County went on a 20-5 run to take control.

Sowers said the regional berth means a lot to the team and the program. She said they are peaking at the right time.

“Minus set two, I thought we looked the best we have all season at times tonight,” Sowers said. “You always want to be peaking when it comes to playoff time – I think we were.”

Lansdown had seven digs and 2.5 blocks to go with her kills for the Eagles. Clarke County’s Rebecca Acland had five kills, three blocks and three aces, and Morgan Withers had 18 assists and three aces for the Eagles.

Henry had four kills and four blocks for the Rams, while Scott had five kills. Cooper had five kills, three aces and 17 assists, and Kelsey Jenkins had 17 digs and three aces for Strasburg. Mathias said that the six seniors – Jenkins, Haley Copeland, Alexander, Funkhouser, Miley Hupp and Scott – will be missed.

“I don’t want to see this group go. I like all of them. They work hard for me,” Mathias said. “They brought this team together and got it back to where people enjoy the game and enjoy playing. Where as in probably the last six, seven years it hasn’t been like that. People are just out there for themselves and not as a team. This group of seniors did a really good job of team work and team camaraderie.”

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