Leesburg, Va. — Following a marquee win over perennial power Loudoun County on September 20, the Briar Woods High School volleyball team entered its Potomac District schedule with wins against Tuscarora and Freedom. The Falcons dropped their next two district matchups: 2-3 to Stone Bridge on September 19 then 1-3 to Riverside on September 24.
Almost a month after their last two losses, the Falcons were hungry for revenge as they swept Stone Bridge on October 15. Then just two days later, Briar Woods traveled to Riverside where they swept the last unbeaten in the Potomac District – 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 – on October 17 in Leesburg.
“After we beat Stone Bridge, we stuck to our game plan. We took time to really review our loss to Riverside and what they were doing to win,” Briar Woods first-year head coach Joe Riggio said. “For the girls, two back-to-back big wins, I’m super proud of them. We’re looking to carry that momentum forward.”
In their round two matchup with Riverside, Briar Woods got out to a slow start in set one, before climbing to an extended lead. Like a thorn in their side, the Rams wouldn’t go away, but the Falcons fended them off to take the first, 25-20.
We’re getting excited for tournament play, and the girls are ready. They’re getting hungrier and hungrier after every match.
—Briar Woods head coach Joe Riggio
The second set was all Briar Woods, as the Falcons used a combination of excellent defense, creative offensive scoring, and an energetic supporting cast to cruise past the Rams, 25-17.
“There’s obviously not always going to be playing time for everyone, but the bench at Briar Woods is electric,” Riggio said. “When our starters look at the bench, they see the energy flowing, especially when the games are tight. Our bench sets us apart from a lot of teams. Everyone on the team is willing to do what we have to do to win.”
Led on the back row by junior libero Chandler Manusky and senior defensive specialist Alice Rosales, the Falcons’ defense dug ball after ball in the third set to keep pace with Riverside. Briar Woods senior setter Kelly Ryan mixed up her ball placement throughout the third and took advantage of an aggressive Rams defense by scoring on several one-pass kills. And junior middle Grace Nathan was a force at the net, as the Falcons completed the sweep, 25-19.
Briar Woods (7-2, 15-5) will look to carry their momentum into next week when the Falcons host Potomac Falls (0-6, 1-12) and Woodgrove (3-5, 7-9) on October 22 and 24, respectively. After suffering their first district loss of the season, Riverside (8-1, 13-3) will look to bounce back against Millbrook on October 21, then resume district play on October 24 against Rock Ridge (0-7, 2-10).
“One of the things we’ve been stressing is if we win, we need to carry that momentum, especially in district play,” Riggio said. “We’re getting excited for tournament play, and the girls are ready. They’re getting hungrier and hungrier after every match.”