QUICKSBURG -- Strasburg’s Lauren Nofsinger wanted to make sure her team did not have to be on the court any longer than needed.
The senior hitter came up with a big kill to end the match and complete a 3-0 (25-8, 25-23, 29-27) win over Shenandoah County rival Stonewall Jackson in Bull Run District volleyball action on Tuesday.
“It felt good,” Nofsinger said of the final kill. “I just love hitting. (Strasburg senior) Delainey (Stickley) gave me a good set -- she always gives me good sets. It was good.”
The Rams took control of the third set early, building a 19-10 lead. However, the Generals weren’t going down without a fight.
Stonewall Jackson ran off five straight points, including a kill by sophomore Alicia Bare and an ace by sophomore Amelia Hess, to cut the lead to 19-15.
Strasburg was eventually able to build the lead to 24-17, but again the Generals went on a furious rally. Stonewall Jackson went on a 7-0 run, aided by a kill from Lilly Proctor, an ace from Bare and a kill by freshman Lilly Blank.
“I am always proud of my team’s effort,” Stonewall Jackson coach Lindsey Dinges said. “They are going to have rough sets and rough nights, but when I see them come together and work hard and leave it all out on the court as they did in the last two sets, it makes me very proud of them.”
The Rams (10-6, 6-4 Bull Run) battled back with two straight points, but once again the Generals fought back with a kill from Proctor to even it at 26. A service error by freshman Mya Councill gave the Rams a 27-26 advantage but Proctor responded with another kill to even the score again.
A service error by Stonewall Jackson junior Kylene Franklin gave the Rams one more match point and Nofsinger responded with the final kill.
Nofsinger said she enjoys the pressure situations.
“I don’t know why but I love pressure just because I know everyone’s mood is everywhere and everyone’s playing their best,” Nofsinger said. “I think with more pressure that’s when more people show who they are.”
Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias-Carter said that she put in some bench players in the third set, and overall she was proud of the way they handled the situation. She said she was pleased with how her team handled the pressure.
“At that point, where it was 24-24 they could have just said ‘we’ll just play another set,’” Mathias-Carter said. “I thought that they stayed focused and was confident in what they could do and got it done.”
The Rams trailed 3-0 in the first set, but went on a 10-0 run and didn’t look back. Strasburg sophomore hitter Kenley Smith had four kills in the set to lead the way.
“Kenley (Smith) is kind of the quiet one that nobody pays attention to,” Mathias-Carter said. “She’s in the shadow of Lauren (Nofsinger), but I’ll take Lauren, too. If they’re focusing on Lauren then we can go to Kenley. And Kenley’s starting to hit the ball and gain a lot of confidence. And you can see it in her hits, going up with that confidence and that different energy than what I’ve seen from her.”
The Generals (0-15, 0-10 Bull Run) took the lead early in the second set. They led 13-8, aided by a kill each from Blank and freshman Annika Dellinger and an ace from Franklin. The Rams responded with four straight points, including a kill each from senior hitter Kyierra Ashby and Nofsinger.
From there the set went back and forth the rest of the way. The Generals eventually used a 5-0 run to take a 22-18 edge, aided by a kill from Franklin and an ace by Bare.
The Rams rallied with a 7-1 run, including a kill by Smith and an ace by senior Baylee Hodson.
“I feel that the girls played well overall,” Dinges said. “We had a rough start with the first match, but they really came together as a team and fought hard in the last two sets.”
Blank had three kills and one block and Proctor had three kills for the Generals.
The Generals have struggled this season with a young team and have won only three sets all year. Stonewall Jackson has only two seniors and a combined six freshmen and sophomores. The team has shown improvement throughout the season and that continued on Tuesday against the Rams.
“I feel that we are making a lot of improvement in many different areas,” Dinges said. “We have been working hard in practices trying to tweak the things that we are struggling with. I can see with the girls that these things are coming together.
“I hope that we can pull together a win and for the girls to not give up the fight that they’ve had. Losing is tough, but they gave it their all and I am proud of them for that.”
The Rams were led by Nofsinger with 12 kills and one block and Smith with eight kills. Stickley added 16 assists and three kills and Hodson had 12 assists for the Rams.
Strasburg has won three straight matches and Mathias-Carter said a big key during the stretch has been the players working together.
“I feel like we’re playing well and it’s being confident with each other,” she said. “And I feel like they’re trying to put differences aside and just play volleyball right now, which is nice. I just hope that they can continue it. So doing the little things has made a difference. And serving has made a difference because the sets that we’ve lost we’ve had sometimes four or five missed serves and sometimes three in a row and it just takes a big toll on what you’re doing. So they’ve done pretty good with that.”