Ashburn, Va. – Riding a 24-match winning streak, the Stone Bridge High School volleyball team had a huge target on its back when the Lady Bulldogs hosted Tuscarora High School for the Potomac District Championship on November 2 in Ashburn.
After dropping the opening set – and having played in just two five-set matches all season – Stone Bridge jumped out to an early fifth-set lead, held off a Lady Huskies’ comeback and claimed the Potomac District title, 3-2 (19-25, 25-10, 25-20, 17-25, 15-13).
“Luckily, we’ve been tested, we’ve been pushed and we’ve had to come from behind before,” Stone Bridge head coach Jill Raschiatore said. “We don’t panic when we’re down, because we’ve been there before.”
A back-and-forth first set ended in favor of Tuscarora, who displayed great defense early.
“The first set we didn’t play the game we usually play, so we went into the second set ready to play Stone Bridge volleyball,” Stone Bridge senior setter Katey Muskett said.
However, the second set was all Stone Bridge. After digging themselves into a slight hole early in the set, the Lady Bulldogs – behind the service of junior libero Mary Kate DeVido – went on a 21-3 run to end the set and even out the score 1-1.
“[The second set] helped us maintain energy throughout the entire match, knowing we had that energy and the ability to turn it on,” said Raschiatore, who was named the Potomac District Coach of the Year.
Stone Bridge fended off a Tuscarora rally in the third set to take a 2-1 lead, before dropping the fourth set to the resilient Lady Huskies.
The Lady Bulldogs had played just two five-set matched up until this point in the season – a 3-2 win over Freedom on September 26 and a 3-2 win over Tuscarora on October 10.
In the fifth set, Stone Bridge jumped out a small lead, but Tuscarora just wouldn’t go away. The Lady Huskies battled back to take a 13-12 lead late in the final game, but the Lady Bulldogs rallied off three straight points to take the set, the match and the Potomac District title.
Both Stone Bridge and Tuscarora will advance to play in the VHSL 5A Region C tournament.
“A lot of girls stepped up tonight who hadn’t been playing and had to change positions,” Raschiatore said. “It’s really exciting for the team to finally get to see that victory. The girls have been working so hard for it so it’s nice to see them reap those rewards.”