Leesburg, Va. — A pass by sophomore libero Alayna Johnson, a set by junior setter Sarah Jordan, and a monster kill by senior middle Ella Solomon on the first play of the game really set the tone for the Captains. And in front of a capped but sold out crowd, No. 1 Loudoun County used the energy from that first play to dismantle No. 2 Loudoun Valley—25-16, 25-14, 25-15—to claim their eleventh straight Dulles District tournament title on April 8 in Leesburg.
“It’s just the best feeling to have worked hard and have that hard work pay off,” Solomon said. “We really came together, and it was great to celebrate together as one team.”
Despite the huge kill from Solomon to open the match, the Vikings didn’t shy away from the tall task that is Loudoun County volleyball, playing a back-and-forth game early on. The Captains, however, found some momentum midway through the first set, got the Vikings out of rotation, and eventually pulled away, 25-16.
Loudoun Valley continued to be a thorn in the Captains’ side to open the second set, forcing a Loudoun County timeout in a one-point game, 6-5, early on. The Vikings stuck around even after that timeout, calling a timeout of their own at 14-12 Captains.
“That’s a really high quality volleyball team,” Loudoun County head coach John Senchak said. “They play fantastic defense, they play with great heart. A lot of credit to Loudoun Valley.”
Even with their fantastic defense and tremendous heart, Loudoun Valley was hit by an offensive wave after that timeout as Loudoun County closed the second set on a 12-2 run to expand its lead to 2-0 after the 25-14 win.
“I told the kids we were one step too slow. The way I look at it, we weren’t quite in the match from the get go,” Loudoun Valley head coach Carmel Keilty said. “They’re kids; they’re going to make mistakes, and they didn’t give up, so I’m really proud of them for that. Our girls gave it everything they had, and we’ll be ready if we get the opportunity again.”
It was all Captains in the third set as Loudoun County jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead which turned into a 14-6 lead in the blink of an eye. Then, with a 24-14 lead late, it was Johnson setting to Jordan who smashed home match point, earning the Captains their 11th straight district tournament title and 14th in 15 years.
“This is the best this team has looked,” Senchak said. “It’s been an abbreviated process. We typically have a month where we can grow together and build our identity and build our chemistry, and then we head into the season and try to improve. But now the regular season is over in the same amount of time, so our team is still coming together.”
Loudoun County will look to carry this momentum into the VHSL Region 4C tournament where they’ll host Northwestern District runner up Handley in a region semifinal on April 13. Loudoun Valley will travel to Northwestern District champion Fauquier for a region semifinal on the same night.
“Heading into the region tournament, it was important that we establish that we are County and we have to play like County plays,” Senchak said. “We just need to build on how we played tonight.”