Rams struggle with communication in loss to Mountaineers

Strasburg's Hannah Alexander blocks a hit by Madison's Makenna Santinga during volleyball action Thursday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Rock bottom.

That’s where Strasburg volleyball coach Suzanne Mathias said her team is after a disappointing 3-0 (25-16, 25-9, 25-16) Bull Run District loss to Madison County on Thursday night.

The Rams had problems with communication throughout the match, and trailed almost the entire way.

“They just got to figure it out as a team,” Mathias said. “They have the skill and the talent. They got to learn to communicate and support each other. And that’s a big hurdle right now.”

Madison County (11-3, 3-1 Bull Run) took a 7-2 lead early in the first set. Strasburg was able to cut the lead to 12-9, after a few Mountaineers’ errors. However, that was as close as they could get in the first set.

Strasburg's Lauren Nofsinger goes up for a kill over Madison's Lane Fox during volleyball action Thursday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Things got worse for Strasburg in the second set. Madison County got off to a quick start and had little trouble pulling out the set.

Leading 19-8, Madison County’s Makenna Santinga had four straight aces. The Mountaineers had 12 aces in the match.

“We usually adjust to that,” Strasburg sophomore hitter Lauren Nofsinger said of Strasburg’s serve-receive. “But I guess (Thursday) we just stopped talking there and just didn’t adjust.”

Mathias switched her line-up around to start the third set and it seemed to give the team a little life.

Strasburg junior Grace Davis had two kills and Nofsinger had one as the Rams took a 4-2 edge.

Strasburg's Ashleigh Hockman makes contact with the ball during Thursday action against Madison County. Rich Cooley/Daily

“That seemed to be a little bit better communication and talking,” Mathias said of the line-up change. “So I’m definitely going to take a look at that a little more in-depth to see if it needs to be something we do more of. I got to figure it out.”

The Mountaineers responded with four straight points to take the lead for good. A block by Nofsinger and a kill by Kassy Bly helped the Rams cut the lead to 6-5.

Madison County pulled away for good with a 10-3 run.

“We’re way better than that,” Nofsinger said of the loss. “We really did just give up on each other. We had a talk right afterwards and (Friday) in practice we’re going to work everything out and try not to let that happen again.”

The Rams (6-8, 0-4 Bull Run) have only three seniors on the squad, but Mathias said being young isn’t an excuse at this point in the season.

Strasburg's Kassy Bly goes up for a kill during a match last season. The Rams have only one newcomer on the team this year and have high hopes for the upcoming season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“We’re halfway through (the season),” Mathias said. “We got to be going up instead of down — and that’s frustrating for me. I know they’re frustrated but we got to do it together.”

The Mountaineers had a very balanced attack in the victory. Abigail Tanner had six kills, and Allie Burbridge had five kills and two blocks for the Mountaineers. Ava Jenkins had four kills and three aces, while Santinga had seven aces for Madison County.

Bly had four kills to lead the Rams, while Nofsinger had three kills. Strasburg’s Delainey Stickley had three aces.

Nofsinger said she still believes the Rams will get things turned around this season.

“After (the loss), that is definitely going to turn our heads,” Nofsinger said. “I think now that we’re in district mode that the pressure’s on. But we just need to realize that what we did (Thursday) is not who we are.”

Strasburg's Morgan Richards hits the floor as she digs the ball during their match with Madison Thursday night in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily