STRASBURG – The first time Strasburg played Luray the Rams lost on the road. This time around, it was a different scene. First, both teams traded their regular jersey colors for pink uniforms. The Rams’ jerseys read “Diggin’ Pink” and proceeds from the concession stand went to breast cancer research. It’s a charity event the Rams have done for about 15 years, but with teachers and family members being affected by breast cancer in recent years, coach Suzanne Mathias-Carter said the game has become “even more important” in recent years.
The special event was just one of the key differences in the Rams’ rematch against the Bulldogs. This time around, Strasburg also had setter Baylee Hodson playing in the game. The senior missed the first match-up because of a family emergency. Her presence this time around helped lead the Rams to a victory in four sets. After losing the first set 25-20, the Rams won three straight sets 25-23, 25-12, 26-24.
“It all just kind of clicked with serving and passing,” Mathias-Carter said after the game. “When they don’t hesitate and help each other out they’re a good little team.”
Senior Delainey Stickley was a big reason for the Rams win. Stickley was a setter for some of the game, but also provided an offensive spark when needed. She finished the match with a game-high 21 assists and also recorded 10 kills, good for second on the team. Stickley says she loves having to play multiple roles for the Rams.
“I love being all around because I don’t miss anything,” she explained.
Stickley was able to change up her role throughout the game because Hodson took over the role of setter for parts of the match. It’s something the Rams couldn’t do the last time they played Luray because Hodson was unavailable. Stickley says she prefers to set, but it’s easy to make the switch to hitter because she knows Hodson is capable of taking over the setting role.
Stickley’s versatility has made her a leader for the Rams teams. She helped provide a spark after the team blew a 17-10 lead in the first set.
“We all just decided we just needed to talk more and it would just come together and it did,” Stickley said when asked what changed after the first set.
The senior’s role on the court changes based on where Strasburg’s offensive star Lauren Nofsinger is on the court. Nofsinger led all Rams players with 20 kills. Stickley set up most of those, and when Nofsinger rotated to the back row, Stickley provided the offense, with Hodson doing the setting.
“When she’s reading the floor well she’s really good and the last two games she done that quite well,” Mathias-Carter said.
The Rams also got some offense from Kenley Smith, Bella Rhodes and Gracie Hart. Hart and Rhodes each had 6 kills, while Smith finished with 9. Defensively, libero Kaitlyn Capps led all players with eight digs. On the Luray side, Brynlee Burrill provided most of the offense. Burrill finished with 21 kills, four aces, two blocks and three digs in a losing effort.