Purcellville, Va. — It took the Loudoun Valley High School volleyball team more than a few points to settle in, but once they did, the Vikings were rolling. After an early adjustment to Heritage’s tipping, Loudoun Valley rallied to sweep the Pride—25-18, 25-13, 25-14—in a Dulles District matchup on September 8 in Purcellville.
“I figured they’d probably do a little more tipping because we tend to play a deeper defense,” Loudoun Valley head coach Carmel Keilty said. “They were hitting some short hits, and once we made the necessary adjustments in the first set, we started to play much better.”
After taking the first set, 25-18, Loudoun Valley junior hitter Amy Wood led the Vikings to a cut and dry win in the second set, 25-13.
However, as the third set started, the Pride found a spark and quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead, forcing the VIkings to take a timeout.
“I just told them ‘don’t worry about what the score is; it’s just one point at a time,’” Keilty said.
And the Vikings did just that. Point by point Loudoun Valley rallied back, going on a 19-4 run, before eventually winning the third set and the match, 25-14.
“Coming out of that time out, the kids did exactly what I asked them to do,” Keilty said. “It was methodical, one at a time, and that’s all I can ask. As time marches on, that type of responsiveness is only going to help us.”
Led by seniors Riley Heffron, Lara Moore, Becca Nguyen, Austin Raymer, Ashlyn Wade, and Violet Wood, the Vikings will lean on their senior leadership to help keep them cool in those high-pressure situations this fall.
“Our kids just play solid, they don’t get rattled, and we have some good senior leaders,” Keilty said. “I kind of just rely on them.”
While Loudoun Valley leans on its seniors, the Pride are relying on a core group of young hitters, who are still learning how to compete at the varsity level.
“Heritage’s hitters are young, and they’re good,” Keilty said. “In a couple years, they’re going to be really tough to beat.”
As both teams continue to grow this fall, the Vikings know what they have to do in order to once again compete at the top of the Dulles District. Loudoun Valley also knows the behemoth that stands in their way in the form of perennial state power Loudoun County. The Vikings will travel to Leesburg to battle with the Captains in their first matchup of the season on September 14.
“We just have to continue to be consistent hitting and serving,” Keilty said. “Once we do that, and we get that all down pat, we’re going to be pretty solid.”