The grueling early-season gauntlet was built by design for a team with postseason aspirations, and now that Broad Run is beginning its second go-round in the Cedar Run’s home-and-home schedule, Coach Ellen Roberts is seeing results.
“The non-conference schedule was definitely tougher — maybe even a little tougher than I expected,” said Roberts, who is in her second stint as Broad Run’s head coach. “But I was happy that we finished fifth out of 16 at the (NVVA Cassel’s Invitational), and as the only Loudoun team there, the girls showed they can pretty much hold their own.
“Playing Stone Bridge, mentally, that helps us, because they are a team that has made it to states the last couple years, and that’s where we would like to end up.”
A year ago, the Spartans started strong against much of the same opposition but crumbled down the stretch, losing four of their final six matches and crashing out of the Northwest Region tournament quarterfinals in a five-set loss at Patrick Henry-Roanoke.
Broad Run returned eight players from that roster, and despite the loss of senior setter Molly Maloney to a hip injury, the team’s experience is showing in the second half of the season.
Amanda Swanson, who can play on the outside and opposite, leads the team with 129 kills, junior middles Rachel Hendricks and Sam King are providing consistent offense and defense, senior Tara Compher is filling Maloney’s shoes as best she can and junior Taylor Austin is, as Roberts put it, “pretty much all over the court.”
The Spartans close out the regular season against Patriot, Battlefield and Freedom-South Riding — three teams they already swept this season — but hope their willingness to push themselves early pays dividends in November.
“We’ve been able to work on defense more, and our serving is now in the 90th percentile,” Roberts said. “We’re still trying to tweak some things to make it all come together, but everyone is contributing, and that’s been a key for us because we don’t have that one all-around player that is consistent 100 percent of the time. In order to do well, we need to play as a team.”
Hoekstra leads Severna Park
Severna Park senior Abbie Hoekstra doesn’t try to make her opponents cry, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy it when it happens.
Hoekstra, the Falcons’ middle hitter, has bedeviled opponents this season; through 11 games, she has 68 kills this season, which ties her for the team lead with junior Kara Glynn. Her offensive output often catches opponents off guard, frustrating defenders and yes, even prompting the occasional tear on the other side of the net.