Leesburg, Va. – The Tuscarora High School volleyball team seemed to be in the driver’s seat of the VHSL 5A Region C championship game when they hosted Briar Woods High School on November 8 in Leesburg. However, the Lady Huskies faced some adversity heading into the game, as they were without Potomac District Player of the Year Anne Louise Seekford.
While it wasn’t the smoothest match for either team, the Lady Huskies dug themselves out of numerous holes to overcome the energetic Lady Falcons, 3-2, to claim the region title (23-25, 27-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9).
“It’s very exciting,” Tuscarora senior libero Gabriela Santos said. “Last year, we played Broad Run in the region championship and lost, so it’s nice to kind of have redemption.”
The redemption didn’t come easy for the Lady Huskies, who stumbled early, allowing Briar Woods to rally back and win the first set of the match.
The storyline flipped in the second set as Tuscarora came-from-behind to defeat the Lady Falcons, 27-25, and even out the match at 1-1.
“We played with heart tonight,” Santos said. “We left everything out on the court. We played as a team.”
Tuscarora had to leave all they had on the court because without Seekford, Senchak had to make some major adjustments to his lineup including playing defensive specialists Ashton and Meghan Dunnigan up front.
“Fortunately, we have a very versatile group of athletes,” Senchak said. “We made adjustments to avoid their big middle block. Our players can adjust immediately. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Even as the Lady Huskies showed determination, the young Lady Falcons continued to pour on the pressure. Led defensively by senior libero Jenny Kabrick, junior defensive specialist Kaitlyn Chan and freshman defensive specialist Chandler Manusky, Briar Woods didn’t allow Tuscarora any easy points.
After Briar Woods used a solid defensive effort and its hard-hitting front to win the third set, a rejuvenated Tuscarora defense hit the floor for the fourth.
An intense, back-and-forth fourth set ended in Tuscarora’s favor as the Lady Huskies took the win and the momentum into the fifth and final set.
“At this point, all the teams are good. It’s about who has the heart, who refuses to lose,” Senchak said. “That was our mantra going into the fifth set: you must refuse to lose. That’s what our girls did.”
For the first time all match, one team finally pulled away and dominated a set, as the Lady Huskies cruised to a 15-9 win and the VHSL 5A Region C championship.
With the win, Tuscarora – who will hopefully get Seekford back before the state tournament begins – will host Albemarle High School in a VHSL 5A state quarterfinal at 1 p.m. on November 11, while Briar Woods travels to Region D champion North Stafford High School for another 1 p.m. start.
“We’ve had plenty of injuries and illnesses and we just work around it and adjust,” Santos said. “We play for each other, and tonight, we played for Anne Louise.”