By now the Langley volleyball team is used to the sluggish starts and inconsistent play that marked its regular season. But facing a two-set deficit in Thursday’s Northern Region semifinals at Centreville against Madison, the severity of the situation hit home in the team’s huddle.
“Going into that third set, we realized that if we lost that game, it’s over. We’re not ready for that,” senior setter Jenna Dean said. “And once it clicks, we just go and get it.”
With a jolt of energy and renewed focus,the Saxons stormed back to dig out a thrilling 22-25, 19-25, 25-19, 25-17, 15-9 victory over an inspired Warhawks team and advance to Saturday’s region final at Centreville. Langley will face two-time defending champion Stone Bridge — a 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 winner over South County — in Saturday’s final in a rematch of last week’s Liberty District title match won by the Saxons.
With the win, Langley (24-4) secured a berth in the state quarterfinals for the second time in four years and snapped a two-year streak of heartbreaking five-set quarterfinal defeats.
Keyed by Hoai-Nam Bui’s defense, Maureen Marsh’s net play and Dean’s infectious spirit, Langley pulled ahead early and held off Madison’s rallies in the third and fourth sets. In the decisive fifth, Alex Andrejev (9 kills, 16 digs) set Marsh (9 kills) for two big kills to help the Saxons complete their rally.
“I don’t panic anymore,” Langley Coach Sue Shifflett said. “They just don’t quit.”
In the second semifinal, Stone Bridge continued its regional dominance with an efficient sweep of the Patriot District champion Stallions. Senior Ryan Ackermann paced the second-ranked Bulldogs (25-2) with 14 kills and juniors Megan Bryn and Sarah Fairchild each converted 16 service points to keep the pressure on South County all night.
“We have a job to do when we get here,” said Bryn, whose team has now won 11 consecutive region tournament matches. “We know we have the team to win here, and we’re motivated to come out and do it.”
In the Region II semifinals, top-seeded Loudoun County swept visiting Handley, 25-8, 25-11, 26-24, to move within one win of a seventh consecutive region title. The No. 3 Raiders (24-1) will host James Wood, which edged visiting Potomac Falls 23-25, 25-18, 13-25, 25-18, 15-10, in Saturday’s final.
Osbourn Park’s season ended at home with a 25-15, 25-22, 12-25, 25-17 loss to Patrick Henry-Roanoke in the Northwest Region semifinals.
“I think some of the seniors started looking at the end of their career,” Osbourn Park Coach Michelle Blue said. “And with six seniors, when they’re all starting to think that and you see it seeping into their heads, it’s really hard to pull them out of that. Little mistakes here and there just make them start thinking a little bit more and that’s not always a good thing.”
The Yellow Jackets (25-4) were led offensively by one of those seniors, outside hitter Katie White, who had nine kills . Sophomore Megan Oyundo had eight kills and four blocks. Senior Raquel Sheriff had four blocks.
In the other Northwest Region semifinal, Broad Run’s comeback attempt in Charlottesville fell short to Albemarle, 25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 16-25, 15-10.
After dropping the first two sets, the Spartans (20-9) rallied to tie the match. Broad Run’s momentum died in the fifth set, though, when Albemarle jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
“I called a timeout just to try to change up the momentum,” Spartans Coach Ellen Roberts said. “I kind of knew at the beginning like that, like, ‘Oooh, we’re going to make it tough on ourselves doing that.’ We’ve come back before but it’s tougher when you’re playing to 15 as opposed to 25.”