Leesburg, Va. — The VHSL’s most dominant dynasty of all time opened its 2019 campaign on September 5, and just a year after winning their seventh consecutive VHSL State championship, the Loudoun County High School volleyball team once again showed everyone why they are the team to beat in Loudoun County.
In their season opener, the Lady Raiders dominated the first set against VHSL 5A State quarterfinalist Stone Bridge and went on to take the match from the Bulldogs (25-6, 25-27, 25-22, 25-16).
“It’s opening night for us, so this will set the tone for our season. We’re still learning, we’re still growing, we’re still trying to come together as a team,” Loudoun County head coach John Senchak said. “Stone Bridge is a powerful team every year, and they’re always ready. This is a huge win over a great opponent.”
Serving their first points of the season, Loudoun County senior setter Chandler Vaughan rallied off five straight service points to start the first set. After Stone Bridge snapped the rally, the Lady Raiders went on to score six of the next seven points to take an early 11-2 lead, forcing the Bulldogs to take a time out.
Out of the timeout, Loudoun County continued to pressure Stone Bridge, scoring three more times before the Bulldogs got back on the board. The Lady Raiders’ domination of the first set continued throughout, before finishing the Bulldogs off, 25-6.
The expectation is to focus on our next opponent. We want to win the next point, the next set, the next match. We’re not going to look any further ahead.
–Coach John Senchak
Stone Bridge was hungry to start the second set as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and despite the ferocity of the Loudoun County offense, the Bulldogs managed to hold a lead until the Lady Raiders climbed back to 24-24. Loudoun County earned the next point, but Stone Bridge rebounded, winning the next three points and the set, 27-25.
“You’re never going to see the same thing with Stone Bridge. Jill [Raschiatore] changed things up between sets one and two, and our team had a very tough time countering,” Senchak said. “We executed the plan we had in set one, but then she took that plan away from us in set two.”
Led by head coach Jill Raschiatore, Stone Bridge again jumped out to a 2-0 lead to start the third, but Loudoun County had an immediate response, scoring the next six points. With a 6-2, the Lady Raiders started to push, forcing a couple of untimely errors, allowing the Bulldogs to even things out at 7-7. Stone Bridge hung around for much of the third set but couldn’t get to 25 quick enough as Loudoun County senior right side Hannah Prendergast rallied her team to take a 2-1 set lead.
“We passed well, and passing is critical,” Senchak said. “The Stone Bridge defense was fantastic. The things we thought would be available, they were taking away. They adjusted quickly, and their block was huge tonight.”
A set away from winning the match, Loudoun County quickly jumped out a 9-2 lead in the fourth, forcing Stone Bridge to take a time out. Coming out of the timeout, the Lady Raiders didn’t let up, pushing the score to 12-3 then 20-10, and eventually 25-16.
An undefeated start is nothing new for the Loudoun County Raiders, who have won 11 of the last 12 VHSL State championships. However, the Lady Raiders aren’t focused yet on winning No. 12.
“The expectation is to focus on our next opponent. We want to win the next point, the next set, the next match,” Senchak said. “We’re not going to look any further ahead.”